Friday, July 27, 2001

Olympic pitch well-received

Site team praises city's commitment to the Games

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The United States Olympic Committee bade farewell to the Queen City on Thursday by saying Cincinnati has put together an Olympic vision that is “very real, very serious.”

Charlie Moore, chairman of the USOC site team
        A nine-member USOC site team spent four days evaluating the region's ability and will to play host to the 2012 Summer Games. Next year, it will pick one of eight U.S. cities to compete internationally for the Games.

        Charlie Moore, chairman of the USOC site team and a 1952 gold medalist in track and field, would not grade Cincinnati's performance or compare it with other cities.

        But he did say his team left quite impressed with the facilities and the spirit in the region.

        “We wouldn't be here if we didn't think this was a legitimate bid,” Mr. Moore said. “We respect it and are impressed by it. We got a wonderful feeling about the commitment to host the Olympics here.”

        And what of the city's ability?

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        Cincinnati has a lot going for it, he said. Among the things that impressed the team most:

        • The plan for a financial guarantee — private insurance combined with Olympic-related sales tax revenue — to cover any debt left over from the Games.

        • Sport venues, housing and other facilities offered by the seven universities in the Olympic region, an area that includes Dayton, Columbus, Lexington and Louisville.

        • The $1 billion riverfront face-lift and the plan for a 24-hour neighborhood, known as The Banks, between the new sports stadiums.

        • The culture, heritage and hospitality in the region.

Where Olympic events would be held
A look at Cincinnati's competition
        Six members of the site team started their day at the Kentucky Horse Park. They toured the rolling acres of bluegrass divided by white plank fences after eating a breakfast of fruit and waffles under a tent, just a gallop or two away from the Man O' War statue.

        Ohio Gov. Bob Taft met with the USOC members at a social function Wednesday night and assured them Ohio will pass legislation to allow the government guarantee against an Olympic-sized debt.

        “You have gone beyond the government guarantee and laid the groundwork for an insurance-type of guarantee,” Mr. Moore said. “It makes sense to us.

        “Your theme, "Cincinnati: America At Its Best,' isn't very far off the mark.”

        Mr. Moore also said his team is convinced the city is doing its best to address issues of racial justice. He said many American cities are struggling with the same problem.

        “We've had full and frank discussions on the matter. We're satisfied you will do a better job than most in that regard,” Mr. Moore said.

        There are several areas of concern expressed by the team.

        The plan for an Olympic Village in Bond Hill is ambitious, but is a public-private partnership that needs to be completed. So, too, does the unfunded plan to build an Olympic Stadium on the western riverfront.

        Mr. Moore also said the lack of light rail hurts the Olympic trans portation plan.

        “Some of the major facilities still need to be built,” Mr. Moore said. “And there is a substantial amount of work to be done in some existing facilities. And you don't have a rail backup. That, for some, could be an issue.”

        Cincinnati 2012 President Nick Vehr said he's confident the visit put the Queen City over the top.

        “The USOC set a high bar and we cleared it with room to spare,” Mr. Vehr said.

        Joe Hale, chair of Cincinnati 2012 and president of the Cinergy Foundation, said he's confident Cincinnati will be the next U.S. city to play host to a Summer Games.

        “We're the right place, the right size in the right time,” Mr. Hale said.

        Cincinnati is competing against Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Washington, New York and Tampa, Fla.

        The USOC will whittle the list of U.S. cities this fall before selecting the U.S. candidate city next year. The International Olympic Committee will decide the site of the 2012 Olympics in 2005.


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