State makes final bid for Olympic festival

February 01, 1991|By Bill Glauber

They had 30 minutes to push a $12 million dream. They talked about the commitment of a business community and the support of a state government. They showed slides and played a videotape.

Finally, they made a simple pledge yesterday: Maryland was prepared to play host to the friendliest and warmest United States Olympic Festival.

"I think our team did well," Gov. William Donald Schaefer said after appearing before the Olympic festival site selection panel in Dallas.

Schaefer and a group of Maryland business, political, academic and athletic leaders made their last, best pitch to gain an Olympic festival in 1994 or 1995. The U.S. Olympic Committee will reveal its decision today.

Denver, San Antonio, St. Louis and South Florida also are bidding to play host to the Olympic festival in 1993, 1994 or 1995.

Maryland remains a long shot to secure the festival because of a scandal that brought down the original bid group, the Maryland State Games Foundation. The new bid committee, headed by C&P chairman and CEO J. Henry Butta, received staff support from the state's Department of Economic and Employment Development.

"We didn't promise anything grandiose, said committee member Andy Geiger, the University of Maryland athletic director. "We talked about the fact that we're a small state geographically, but a large state in the sense of our spirit and importance."

The Maryland bid contained a proposed budget of $12 million, including in-kind services for such items as transportation, security and computers. Any profits will be shared by the USOC and the state.

The budget breakdown:

* A foundation headed by Butta will raise $5 million cash, plus secure $3 million of in-kind services from local corporations.

* The state government will provide $1 million of services, including use of personnel.

* Ticket sales are expected to yield $3 million. Baltimore and the University of Maryland's College Park campus would serve as hubs for the 37-sport event.

"We think we can make a little money, but it's not a bonanza," Geiger said. "The real benefit of something like this is in the business and attention that comes to the state."

The Maryland bid was understated and informative. DEED secretary Randall J. Evans led off and Schaefer batted cleanup. Others who made pitches included Geiger, University of Maryland president William E. Kirwan, public-relations consultant Phyllis Brotman, Olympic gold-medal basketball player Vicky Bullett and Baltimore Area Convention and Tourist Bureau director Wayne Chappell. Sportscaster Jim McKay made a taped presentation.

"We were trying to give them the feeling of the pride in Maryland," Brotman said. "We said that volunteers are key to the whole program."

Schaefer said the Maryland State Games Foundation's funding scandal was not discussed.

"I think the festival committee knew the people that were here are reliable and strong," he said.

Evans said it was difficult to measure the support for Maryland on the 12-member festival panel.

"There was a gulf," he said. "We were about 50 to 60 feet away. It was real tough to read facial expressions. I couldn't read body language. They were quietly encouraging."

How confident is Evans that the state will win?

"I've got my hotel room booked through Sunday morning," he said.

The other communities also made strong presentations. St. Louis, aiming for 1994 or 1995, pushed its corporate support. Denver, the 1993 front-runner, and San Antonio, the 1994 favorite, each boasted of its facilities. South Florida's organizing committee emphasized its history of presenting major sporting events in the Miami area and took aim at securing the 1995 festival.

"From a technical standpoint, everything went well," Olympic Festival Committee chairman Don Porter said. "The decision will be very difficult. I think we have five excellent bidders. I thought all of them were very well organized and could get the job done."

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