Thursday, December 28, 2000

Olympic funding takes hit

County puts off vote to chip in public money

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hamilton County officials will begin negotiating a contract that would give $500,000 over the next two years to the group trying to bring the 2012 Olympics to Cincinnati.

        But the likelihood of that money ever changing hands took a hit Wednesday because county commissioners voted only to allow the contract negotiations — not to actually give Cincinnati 2012 Inc. the money.

        That means a vote won't happen before new Commissioner Todd Portune takes office next week.

  • Details of the bid
  • Map of proposed venues
  • Status of venues
  • A look at Cincinnati's competition
  • Four annual festivals would precede Games
        The timing is important because Mr. Portune has said he will oppose all new spending, and sitting Commissioner John Dowlin voted against allowing the contract negotiations at all.

        “This keeps the possibility of the county participating in this effort on life support,” said outgoing Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus.

        Mr. Dowlin has raised many questions about the grant. He asked Wednesday what kind of return taxpayers will see on the investment. He also expressed concern over the cost of land for a new Olympic Stadium on the western riverfront.

        “If we invest in this, will we get our money back?” Mr. Dowlin asked. “I still need to be convinced.”

        Nick Vehr, president of Cincinnati 2012 Inc., said more cities are bidding on the Olympic Games than ever before. “There has to be a reason for that,” he said.

        Cincinnati 2012 has raised $5 million of the $7 million needed for the initial bid process.

        “This is the first time we've asked for public support,” Mr. Vehr said. “It's very important we demonstrate the support of the community, and it's important that we do a good job selling this bid.”

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