Wednesday, July 25, 2001

Olympics team endures heat

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        United States Olympic Committee members had a hot time in Cincinnati on Tuesday. A very hot time.

        They saw flying pigs, and sweated. They saw an under-construction riverfront, and sweated. They listened to the University of Cincinnati's plans to improve its campus and, you guessed it, sweated some more.

        Despite a temperature of 89 degrees and humidity as high as 97 percent, Tuesday was the first real day of work for the nine-member USOC site evaluation team. They're in town through Thursday checking out the city's ability to host the 2012 Olympics.

        Joe Hale, chair of Cincinnati 2012 Inc., said all the sweat was worthwhile. He scored the day as a major success.

[photo] Among U.S. Olympic Committee officials looking around at Sawyer Point on Tuesday were site evaluation team members Charles H. Moore (left), Frank Aires and Stacey Johnson.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
| ZOOM |
        “I've never been so proud to be from this city,” Mr. Hale said. “After listening to our people's responses to questions and hearing the city's assets all at once, it's phenomenal.”

        The site team is in the middle of a tour that will take it to all eight American cities that want to be picked by the USOC to compete internationally for the Olympiad.

        Things heated up when the group began its tour of Sawyer Point and Yeatman's Cove in the afternoon. The USOC officials remained stone-faced for most of the day, giving little indication of their impressions of the city.

        USOC members will not comment about their tour until Thursday, when a news conference is scheduled.

        They walked to the Serpentine Wall, a spot where triathletes would take a plunge into the Ohio River and swim for 1.5 kilometers during the Olympics.

        After gazing out on the river, the site team chairman, Charlie Moore, asked: “How, again, are we going to clean up that water?”

        Nick Vehr, president of Cincinnati 2012, assured him that the water quality would meet Olympics requirements.

   The U.S. Olympic Committee is visiting Cincinnati this week to evaluate the region's ability to host the 2012 Olympic Summer Games. What would you like to tell the Olympic officials? It can be about Cincinnati, the games or the community's chances for the 2012 Games. We will publish some of your comments this week.
    Send your comments via e-mail to You also can share your thoughts at Cincinnati.Com.
    Please include your name, neighborhood, daytime phone number along with your comments.
        Mr. Vehr said the USOC members asked many questions during a closed-door briefing on housing, infrastructure, sports infrastructure and sports experience Tuesday morning.

        “They asked a lot of questions and we had a lot of answers,” Mr. Vehr said. “They came very well prepared. It was a very exciting exchange.”

        From Sawyer Point, it was on to UC, where university officials talked about the $1 billion they've spent upgrading the campus over the past decade and the $800 million they'll spend in the next seven years. All that took place under a tent in a UC parking lot next to Shoemaker Center.

        Mr. Hale, who is also president of Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co., checked his Palm Pilot as the site team listened to the presentation. It flashed with news that Cinergy set a new record for electricity demand.

        “I think they understand this is something that all of middle America is experiencing right now,” Mr. Hale said of the site team, implying they won't hold the heat against Cincinnati. “We're just trying to give them as much water as we can.”

        A quick stop at Integrity Hall later in the afternoon gave Cincinnati Councilwoman Alicia Reece a chance to explain how an Olympic Village in Bond Hill would help residents realize their dream of more single-family housing in the neighborhood.

        “This is a great way to connect the community to the international dream of the Olympics,” Ms. Reece said. “This is a site that works in the context of the community.”

        The day started with a welcome from Mayor Charlie Luken and Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

        “This is a city that, with the Olympics, would be an inspired city,” Mr. Blackwell said.

        The USOC team will split today, with half traveling to venues in Kentucky and half traveling to Columbus. Another round of presentations is scheduled for the afternoon.



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