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Volume 21 No. 2
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USOC expected to study options for future Games bid

The U.S. Olympic Committee this week is expected to take the first step toward determining when and what Olympics it will bid for in the future.

USOC Chief Executive Officer Scott Blackmun is expected to propose that the organization’s board, which is meeting Thursday in San Jose, create a committee to evaluate the organization’s options for bidding, sources familiar with the proposal said. It’s unclear if that committee would be limited to board members or extend to outsiders.

The USOC’s new revenue-sharing agreement with the International Olympic Committee, which it reached last month, paves the way for a bid, but the organization still has to determine what Olympics it would want to host. The next two Olympics it can bid for are the 2022 Winter Games and the 2024 Summer Games. Bids likely would have to be submitted for those Games in 2013 and 2015, respectively.

The subcommittee will study options and make a recommendation to the board.

The USOC’s leadership believes bringing the Olympics back to the U.S. is critical to long-term interest in the event and its sports. The Games also have the potential to generate revenue for the USOC in the form of long-term sponsorship support.

Ebersol was part of a group who met late last year to discuss future USOC bids.
The USOC already has done some preliminary research and held informal meetings about when to bid. It brought together a group of Olympic experts at Covington & Burling’s office in New York in December to discuss the pros and cons of bidding for a Summer or a Winter Games. Among those in attendance were former NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol, former New York 2012 bid leader Dan Doctoroff, AEG Chief Executive Officer Tim Leiweke, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, USOC board member Mike Plant, former USOC President Harvey Schiller and others.

The pros of a Summer Olympics are that the USOC would stand to bring in more revenue and host an event with wider appeal to Americans. The cons are that it will face more competition and have to convince an elite U.S. city to pay for a bid.
The pros of a Winter Olympics are that there is considered to be less competition for the Games and there are cities already lined up expressing interest, including Salt Lake City, Denver and Reno-Lake Tahoe on the Nevada-California border. The cons are that the Games would generate less money and not have as broad an appeal.

A study that the USOC commissioned prior to the 2011 meeting showed the difference in revenue generated by a Summer and Winter Games was marginal. Sources in attendance said Ebersol was a big champion of bidding for a Winter Olympics, but it was unclear which way the USOC would go.

A final decision won’t be determined until after the board’s bid exploration committee has reviewed the organization’s options.