Wednesday, July 25, 2001

Sell Olympics on what's here

        Nick Vehr is going about this all wrong. If the ringsleader of Cincinnati 2012 wants to woo the United States Olympic Committee, he should go light on the logistics and serve up more Skyline.

        By the time the USOC's site evaluation SWAT team leaves Cincinnati, its members are going to be inundated with infrastructure, overwhelmed by organization and up to their eyeballs in packaged enthusiasm.

Plans for riverfront makeover include Olympic Stadium at left.

Where Olympic events would be held
A look at Cincinnati's competition
Who's here to check us out
        This will serve to make Greater Cincinnati (and Not-Quite-So-Great Dayton) seem like every other salivating aspirant for the 2012 Summer Games. Considering Cincinnati is neither a seat of power (New York, Washington), a titan of tourism (Orlando, San Francisco) nor
armed to the bicuspids (Dallas, Houston), this is probably not the way to go.

        If we're going to impress the domestic screening committee — to say nothing of future delegations from France — we're going to have to break the mold of traditional civic suitors and show them things they can't see anywhere else.

        Such as: Camp Washington Chili, Maury's Tiny Cove, the subway that wasn't, the Nordstrom store that isn't, and the City Council sessions that won't go away.

Peace and parking

               We can't compete in terms of scenery, skyscrapers or strip joints. We need to sell novelty, nuance and need.

        We must convince the world that a Cincinnati Olympics would create either a more open society (Hey, it worked for Beijing) or improved parking; that it would bridge the gap between the races and persuade hidebound Hyde Parkers to venture as far as Delhi; that it would put modest Middle America on the world stage and repair the national reputation for tacky huckstering that remains the enduring legacy of Atlanta 1996.

        Since bribery is no longer an official Olympic sport, we are forced to rely on our powers of persuasion and our insatiable appetite for tax-funded stadia. That is, of course, unless Stan Chesley can concoct a class-action suit.

James Bond Principle

        To assess the eight cities competing for the 2012 U.S. bid, Florida columnist Gary Shelton uses the James Bond Principle.

        “If there isn't enough romance, enough international flavor for 007, then there shouldn't be enough for the Games, either,” he wrote.

        Shelton rates Los Angeles' Bond quotient as “superb;” San Francisco's as “excellent;” New York's as “high;” Tampa Bay's as “very good” and Cincinnati's as “zip.”

        He must have caught us during a bad decade.

        You want romance? Consider Eden Park at sunset or Mount Lookout Tavern at closing time. You want international flavor? If you can't find it in a plate of Oktoberfest sauerbraten, you're chewing too fast.

        You want the Olympics? Well, maybe you don't. When there's rioting in the streets and storefronts are being set on fire, it's pretty hard to pretend it's a practice run for the torch relay. It's pretty hard to believe Cincinnati doesn't have higher priorities.

        Yet for all of you Nick Vehr vigilantes out there — consider how thrilling it would be to see Marge Schott light the Olympic cauldron with her cigarette lighter. Imagine the electricity that would be generated by a winning team at Paul Brown Stadium, even if it's from Pakistan.

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