Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Olympics backers switch pitch

Plan to tap private sector, not taxpayers

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The nonprofit group trying to bring the Olympics to Cincinnati has, at least for now, decided to make its run at the Games without any public gold. Or silver.

        Cincinnati 2012 Inc., whose requests for a total of $1.5 million from Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials over the next two years had met with resistance, says it will do without the public money.

  • Bid details
  • Map of proposed venues
  • Status of venues
  • A look at Cincinnati's competition
  • Four annual festivals would precede Games
        Nick Vehr, president of the group, said it was clear that the city and county governments had too many other commitments, and the group's request for Olympic money would be turned down.

        “We're going to focus on what we've done well — raising money from the private sector,” Mr. Vehr said. “From our assessment, we spent more time going after public dollars than we did in raising twice that much over the past four to five years.”

        Cincinnati is competing against seven other U.S. cities with its initial bid, which was submitted Dec. 15. One of the eight sites will be picked by the U.S. Olympic Committee in 2002 to compete against international cities for the 2012 Games.

        Mr. Vehr said his group is about $2.5 million short of the $7.5 million needed to complete the domestic phase of the bid. The money will be used to pay for staff, rent office space, travel and share information — with USOC officials and others in this re gion — about the bid.

        But a letter written to both Mayor Charlie Luken and County Commission President John Dowlin and signed by Mr. Vehr and chairman Joe Hale left open the possibility of public dollars being used if the Queen City is picked for the international phase of the bid process.

        Mr. Vehr said he will not ask other cities in the Tristate for financial help during the domestic phase.

        “We are hopeful that circumstances in the future enable the city to be a financial partner in this incredible process,” the letter states.

        Cincinnati Councilman John Cranley says he is opposed to any public financing of the Olympic bid.

        “I think it was a smart thing to do,” Mr. Cranley said.

        Councilman Phil Heimlich said Tuesday that organizers should never have asked for the money.

        “Everybody has a right to ask,” Mr. Heimlich said. “It has always been promised as a private venture, and it ought to stay that way.”


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