SBJ/March 25-31, 2013/Olympics

USOC plans ‘efficient’ bid process

The U.S. Olympic Committee plans to forgo a formal domestic bidding process for the 2024 Olympics and select a potential bid city by the end of 2014, CEO Scott Blackmun said.

“We want it to be as informal and efficient as possible,” Blackmun said, noting that Chicago spent more than $10 million organizing a domestic bid to beat out Los Angeles as the U.S. bid city for the 2012 Games. “We’ll be as open and transparent as possible, but we really want to minimize the costs for the city and pick a partner that we can really work together with.”

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun wants to cut costs for U.S. cities seeking the 2024 Olympics.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The USOC last month mailed letters to 35 cities in an effort to gauge those municipalities’ interest in bidding on the 2024 Summer Games. The letters went to cities ranging in size from Rochester, N.Y., and Tulsa, Okla., to Los Angeles and New York.

Several cities, including Los Angeles, Dallas, Boston and San Francisco, have publicly expressed interest and formed exploratory committees to determine whether they would be interested in hosting the 2024 Olympics. Blackmun said several other cities have held informal discussions with the USOC. He added that the USOC won’t publicly disclose the conversations it’s having with cities and will allow cities to determine whether they want to publicly express interest.

“Some cities don’t want to be disclosed,” Blackmun said. “Some cities don’t want to say they’re interested if it’s not feasible. They’d prefer to learn more about the process first.”

The USOC plans to meet with interested cities this year and narrow the list of potential cities to two or three candidates by the end of the year. The cities will be selected based on whether the USOC believes they would stand a chance of winning the 2024 Summer Games. It would then select a bid city by the end of 2014 using criteria ranging from the city’s international appeal and its infrastructure to its case for hosting the Games and its ability to work with the USOC. The city and the USOC wouldn’t have to commit to bidding for the Games until the third quarter of 2015.

“The question will be: Do we bid for 2024 based on what we think our chances are?” Blackmun said. “If we decide not to bid on 2024, then we’ll look to 2026.”

The IOC will select a 2024 host city in 2017. The 2026 Winter Games will be voted on by the IOC in 2019. Denver, Reno-Lake Tahoe and Salt Lake City have expressed interest in bidding on the Winter Games.

Chris Sullivan, USOC chief bid and protocol officer, is leading the bid process and handling the bulk of the communication with the cities.

Blackmun said he is putting 20 percent of his time into a potential bid for the 2024 Games, and he expects that time commitment to increase as the process evolves.

“We’re at a gating stage right now,” he said. “Once we have a shorter list of cities with capacity for bidding, it will take more of my time.”

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