Sunday, October 28, 2001

Thank-you note to the USOC

        Shocking news comes to the Queen City from Salt Lake City, Utah. The United States Olympic committee has listed the finalists in the 2012 Summer Olympics Sweepstakes — and guess who was not on the list.

        Can you believe this? The committee must be crooked. We were the obvious choice. Instead, they picked Houston, New York, San Francisco and Washington. (Saturday story)

        This just cheeses me off. When you think of all the money that has been spent — the draft bid alone cost $4 million to produce — it seems as though there should at least be some sort of consolation prize.

Reasons to celebrate

        I hope they know how sad their decision will make Nick Vehr, who is a very, very nice person and a hard worker. This was his dream. “In every city that has ever got the games, they had a passion. And that's what we need here,” Mr. Vehr said when he resigned his post at City Council in 1996 to pursue the Olympic grail.

        Maybe we didn't get passionate enough about the prospect of devoting ourselves to spending more money on empty new sports facilities. Maybe they heard that Jerry Springer used to be our mayor. Or maybe they saw us on the evening news in April.

        Whatever. Let's try to make the best of it, count our blessings, so to speak.

        Herewith, a Half-Dozen Reasons Why the USOC Did Us a Big Favor:

        1. We will not become a more attractive target for terrorists.

        2. We will not have to build any new sports palaces.

        3. We will not have to watch Northern Kentucky get all the good stuff.

        4. We won't have to spend $15 for a hamburger.

        5. We will not have to post a guarantee of $250 million by Nov. 30.

        6. Maybe the talented and well-connected Mr. Vehr will devote himself to something most people in this city would actually like to have. Such as good schools. Or good government.

The other shoe drops

        An American candidate will be chosen from among the finalists in November 2002. Then the International Olympic Committee will vote on the host city in 2005. But they have dropped the other shoe on Cincinnati. So we can get on with — dare I say this? — more important matters.

        Maybe instead of bringing 5 million people here once, we could put some passion into trying to get a lot of people to come here all the time. Conventions, a nice clean industry, may bring the occasional fez to town. But no smokestacks. They spend about $70 million a year here, despite the fact that we have a convention facility that is dwarfed by the ones in Columbus and Indianapolis.

        Tourists mostly use things we already have, things we use ourselves. We wouldn't have to build a swimming pool the size of Montana to lure them. They'd just stop by for a few days and drop money at hotels. The zoo. Kings Island. The Reds. The museums, all of them. Not a single one of these places has been suffering from overcrowding. Or too much out-of-town money.

        Other cities will be chasing the Olympic rainbow for the next four years. We could get a lot done in that time.

        “This has been an inspiring journey,” said Charles H. Moore, chairman of the bid evaluation task force. “Each city is better from the process and so is the USOC.”

        Actually, I feel better already.

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