City weighs bid for 2008 Olympics Stadiums, waterways, hotels make Baltimore 'unique' site, Moag says

D.C. considers bid, too

Reps of both to attend USOC talks tomorrow

February 11, 1997|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Ellen Gamerman and William F. Zorzi Jr. contributed to this article.

Maryland officials, trying to take advantage of the state's multimillion-dollar stadium building boom, are exploring a bid for Baltimore to be host of the 2008 Summer Olympics.

"The state is America in miniature and has the unique capabilities to host these things," said Maryland Stadium Authority chairman John Moag.

Moag has been in contact with officials in Atlanta, host city of last year's Games, and the U.S. Olympic Committee. He will attend a seminar tomorrow conducted by the U.S. Olympic Committee for cities interested in being hosts of the Olympic Games.

The competition would be fierce. Washington and a half-dozen other cities are considering bids.

Moag said no decision has been made for Baltimore. "Do we go at this in a big way? Some more homework has to be done. We are in the exploratory stage," Moag said.

"I've talked to a lot of people about it and I don't think the time is right for the state and city to make a decision on whether to bid or not. But the time will be right in the not-too-distant future," Moag said.

Ultimately, a decision would be made by Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, he said.

Glendening was noncommittal on the issue last night. "It was suggested by various people that perhaps Maryland should look at making a bid at some time in the future. It has immense potential, but it has immense challenges," he said.

Moag said he has discussed the matter informally with Schmoke, but the mayor said last night that he could not recall the conversation.

But, Schmoke said, "If they're looking to do it as a regional event, we could pull it off with style."

Of course, it's a long way to 2008. The U.S. Olympic Committee board of directors will meet Thursday through Saturday and consider whether to file an application for the 2008 Games on behalf of an American city. That decision probably will be made in the next few months, said Mike Moran, public relations director for the U.S. Olympic Committee.

If the committee chooses to pursue a bid, it would choose a candidate city in 1999. The International Olympic Committee would make the final selection from among all international applicants in late 2001 or early 2002, Moran said.

He said six U.S. cities have been aggressively discussing a bid for several months: Houston, Cincinnati, Chicago, Seattle, New York and Boston. Baltimore and Washington have been late entrants, and both plan to send representatives to Philadelphia this week.

Moag said part of the stadium authority's job is to find ways to take advantage of the state's infrastructure of sports facilities.

That infrastructure is rapidly growing: The stadium authority is building a stadium for the Ravens next to Oriole Park, and the Washington Redskins are building one of their own in Prince George's County. An arena is on Baltimore's wish list and one is under construction in downtown Washington.

The state's access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries makes it well-suited for boating events, and the region already is site of some of the nation's premier equestrian events every year. The only major venues missing in the Baltimore area are an arena, Olympic village and aquatic center, Moag said.

Several major hotels have announced plans to build downtown.

"We as a committee feel that Baltimore has experienced a true rebirth that deserves both national and international recognition," said Paul Levy, an attorney from Kensington who has been working behind the scenes for several months with Keith Rosenberg, a lawyer from Owings Mills, trying to drum up interest in a bid.

The two have drawn up, but not yet filed, papers of incorporation for an official Baltimore Olympic committee. They say no tax dollars would be required to pursue the Games. The Olympics prefers privately financed Games, although the International Olympic Committee will seek indemnification from the host city for any potential financial losses.

Washington's pitch is wide-ranging. The committee suggests sailing venues in Annapolis, horse jumping in the Virginia countryside near Middleburg and whitewater rafting through Great Falls on the Potomac and rivers in West Virginia.

"This is the nation's capital -- all countries have a home in Washington because of their embassies," said Elizabeth Ganzi-Ejjam, 31, executive director of the Exploratory Committee, which will make Washington's presentation tomorrow.

tTC But while committee members want to keep the heart of the Olympics in the nation's capital -- including a specially built Olympic stadium -- they also hope to work with Baltimore and other sites in Maryland, as well as Virginia.

"I don't think Washington can do it alone, and I don't think Baltimore can either," said Ganzi-Ejjam, who runs a special event marketing company and worked as a consultant for World Cup Soccer when the event came to Washington in 1994.

David Watts, deputy city administrator for economic development for Washington, said the city would "love to participate," although he added that with its current fiscal crisis, the capital couldn't put cash out front for construction costs.

Pub Date: 2/11/97

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