Schaefer role bodes well for festival bid

John Steadman

January 30, 1991|By John Steadman

Sending in the "game breaker," no less than the governor, William Donald Schaefer, to run with the ball indicates Maryland expects to go all the way in its desire to win confirmation as host for the U.S. Olympic Festival in either 1993, '94 or '95. The most preferred date would be 1995 -- a year before the Olympic Games are celebrated in Atlanta and when worldwide enthusiasm begins to peak.

It doesn't seem likely Schaefer would be involved to such a prominent degree if there hasn't been some indication Maryland is going to come away as one of the three winners in the contest. No state, in a fun and games decision, would impose upon its governor to take such a position if, when all was said and done, the cause had all the earmarks of falling short.

Final presentations will be made tomorrow at a meeting in Dallas when Schaefer leads a group of state government and business leaders, all flying the Maryland colors. It won't take long for a decision. They'll know on Friday when the U.S. Olympic Committee makes the awards.

In the bidding for the three spots are delegations from Denver, Miami, St. Louis, San Antonio and Maryland. An Olympic Festival, offering 37 events over a 10-day period, holds the hope of drawing 500,000 spectators to staging areas within easy proximity of Baltimore and Washington.

Athletic facilities at the University of Maryland (both College Park and Baltimore County), Towson State University, College of Notre Dame, Baltimore Arena, Capital Centre and the Prince George's Equestrian Center would be utilized. Some details of the trip to Dallas were outlined by the governor.

"We've transferred the bid to DEED [Department of Economic and Employment Development] and asked them to run with it, with the help of the University of Maryland," he said. Schaefer is, of course, interested in the attention such an undertaking would bring to the state.

Randy Evans, secretary of the department Schaefer named to coordinate the mission, explained the approach. "The first move was to assemble a team of top Maryland business leaders and government officials to bring their expertise to Maryland's Olympic Festival bid."

He enthusiastically singled out the selection of Henry "Hank" Butta, president of the C&P Telephone Co. of Maryland, to direct the program. "I'm pleased Hank Butta agreed to head the team," Evans said, "and that he has been able to attract a group of professionals to help with this effort." Others joining Butta include Phyllis Brotman, Maryland chairwoman of the U.S. Olympic Committee; William Kirwan, president of the University of Maryland; Andy Geiger, Maryland athletic director; Vicky Bullett, a U.S. women's basketball gold medalist and former Terps star; and Jim McKay, award-winning ABC sports commentator.

Each of the five potential locations has been allocated 30-minute presentations. The Maryland lineup will have, from a speaking standpoint, Evans, Butta, Kirwan, Geiger, Brotman, Wayne Chappell, executive director of the Baltimore Convention and Visitors Association; and McKay, who won't be able to attend but, instead, will convey remarks via video. Schaefer, it's to be presumed, becomes the important "cleanup hitter."

Others from Maryland making the trip are Mike Marqua, director of the state office of sports promotion; Dean Kenderdine, assistant secretary of tourism and promotion; Jane Howard, of the office of Economic and Employment Development; and Joshua Waldorf, a marketing specialist of the state office of sports promotion.

Last year, Minneapolis staged an exceptionally successful Olympic Festival, well organized and attended by crowds that totaled 450,000. Phil Jackman, columnist of The Evening Sun who has frequently covered the festivals, says he "puts it on a par with the Pan-American Games because it prepares our athletes for the upcoming Olympics."

"It'll take a lot of preparation and volunteer help, plus financial assistance from the corporate community. The athletes are young, enthusiastic, a pleasure to be around and watch compete. It's an important event that has done well, in the past, in places such as Syracuse, Raleigh/Durham, New Orleans and other locations."

Schaefer, as the key spokesman/salesman, moves Maryland to a commanding position.

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