Maryland moved one step closer yesterday to securing the rights to play host to the United States Olympic Festival in 1993, 1994 or 1995.
Maryland was one of five bid finalists approved by the U.S. Olympic Committee's Executive Committee during its meeting yesterday in Durham, N.C. The USOC's Board of Directors is expected to approve the selections today.
Denver, Miami, St. Louis and San Antonio also made the cut. Knocked out of the bid process were Cincinnati, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Portland, Ore.
Members of the USOC's Olympic Festival Committee will visit each of the remaining applicant sites between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15. The final selections will be announced at a USOC meeting Feb. 2-3 in Dallas.
"We're ready and willing to host the event," said James Narron, director of special projects for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The 10-day Olympic Festival is held during the years between Summer Olympic Games. It is the nation's largest, multisport amateur event, serving as a proving ground for future Olympians.
The next three-year cycle is attractive, because it precedes the 1996 Atlanta Games. The event also may be expanded to attract foreign athletes.
Maryland officials have said that, to meet a $10 million budget, $1 million would come from the state -- a combination of services and cash -- $3 million from ticket sales and $6 million from donations or sponsorships.
State officials have estimated the event, which attracts thousands of athletes and hundreds of thousands of fans, could bring $25 million into the state. They also say that it could serve to attract other amateur events to Maryland.
Baltimore is one of three finalists to stage the 1992 U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials. State officials also are planning to bid for Olympic trials in white-water sports, boxing and tae kwon do.
Towson State University, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and the University of Maryland would serve as hubs for the Olympic Festival, with competitions also staged at various sites throughout the state, including the Baltimore Arena, the Capital Centre and the Savage River in Western Maryland.