SBJ/June 4 - 10, 2001/2012 Games The Final Bids

TAMPA/ST. PETERSBURG·ORLANDO: Site committee's late visit lets bid group tailor pitch

For Florida 2012 officials, the next few months are going to be spent getting ready for eight visitors coming in August to see what Tampa/St. Petersburg and Orlando can offer for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Ed Turanchik, president and CEO of the local bid group, said little work has been done on the Florida 2012 bid document since its first draft was filed in December. What work has been done Turanchik characterized as fine-tuning.

That won't be the case when the U.S. Olympic Committee sends its site selection committee to central Florida to explore the details of the area. During the early August visit, the group will hear presentations on topics ranging from accommodations and community support for the Games to the local organizers' plans for competing with other cities internationally to host the Olympics.

The group also will tour the area, including the approximately 90-mile corridor from Orlando to St. Petersburg. An advantage for the local group: With the scheduled bus tour of the area falling on a Saturday, the USOC representatives will not likely experience the local traffic concerns that are driving plans for a high-speed rail system.

Work related to the site visit is expected to cost Florida 2012 up to $20,000.

"Our strength is our brand," said state Rep. Randy Johnson, who is president of the Central Florida Sports Commission. "We know how to entertain, we know how to move people around and we can give people the experience of their lives. That's the essence of the Olympics."

That's not to say that the site visit will be a party-driven affair. The only planned social function is a small cocktail party at the end of the visit.

"They want it to be a fact-driven, low-frills, low-fanfare trip," Turanchik said.

Turanchik is particularly pleased with the timing of the trip. Central Florida will be the third to last among the eight U.S. markets bidding for the Games, and the trip will be after the International Olympic Committee has picked the site of the 2008 Summer Olympics.

If Toronto is selected to host the 2008 Games, it is widely assumed the United States will not have a chance to host the 2012 Games. The IOC historically hasn't put consecutive Summer Games on the same continent.

"We have the benefit of knowing what city is hosting 2008's Games and tailoring our presentations with that in mind," Turanchik said. He said details of that tailoring are still being determined.

Aside from preparing for the site visit, Florida 2012 is continuing its fund-raising work in hopes of raising another $2 million. The group has raised approximately $200,000 since April, bringing the total raised for the bid effort to $10.2 million. Florida 2012 also is continuing its Get Your Number campaign, in which people can reserve spots for tickets to the Games.

And there are several smaller agreements to work out, including deals related to development of the planned Olympic Village and agreements with local corporations for internal promotion of the Games and the bid effort.

"We're just sprucing up the finer details of the bid," Turanchik said.   

Alan Byrd writes for the Orlando Business Journal.

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