City of venues can start putting its Olympic ducks in row

February 12, 1997|By JOHN EISENBERG

If the Olympics come to Baltimore in 2008, you can make $10,000 in two weeks subletting your house to a visiting potentate.

As long as you're willing to build a chicken-wire pen in the back yard to house his goats.

If the Olympics come to Baltimore in 2008, you can go for the gold on behalf of your country -- as a duckpin bowler.

Honest, hon.

The International Olympic Committee usually allows one "local" sport onto the docket at each Olympics as a demonstration event, such as curling in Calgary and ballroom dancing in Sydney, Australia.

What else besides "ducks" would be right as a symbol for Baltimore? Crab picking? Frisbee golf? A driving race to Ocean City on a Friday afternoon in July?

No, if the Olympics come to Baltimore in 2008, they'll bowl for gold at Seidel's Bowling Center on Belair Road.

Not far from the cycling races on the concrete track at Lake Montebello.

And the tennis matches on the clay courts at Clifton Park.

IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, who won't stay in a hotel for less than $500 a night, surely would fall in love with those venues.

And wait until he sees his beloved Dream Team packing the bleachers inside the gym at Dunbar.

And the crowds climbing the stairs at the corner of Broadway and Eager to watch the boxing matches at Mack Lewis' second-floor gym.

If the Olympics come to Baltimore in 2008, we'll show the world how to do it right.

For those who missed it, the news is out that Baltimore is contemplating submitting a bid to hold the Summer Games that year. Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, New York, Seattle and Washington are other U.S. cities considering making a bid.

It would be incredibly exciting, of course, if we wound up getting the Games.

We could look forward to an entire decade of construction hassles, road closures, bribery scandals, traffic jams and international scrutiny as we prepared for the big event.

Then, during the two weeks of the Games, we could experience the thrill of being the world's No. 1 target for a terrorist hit.

Only a grump wouldn't want to have his taxes raised and his life disrupted for that.

Of course, no one from Baltimore would be in danger if a terrorist did strike -- it's an Olympic tradition to leave town when the Games come to your city and rent out your house to a sucker/tourist for more money than you make the rest of the year.

Actually, the Baltimore committee should consider bidding for a Winter Olympics instead of a Summer Games. The "winters" aren't as large, costly or complicated, and, surprisingly, we're already set for venues.

The opening and closing ceremonies at Rash Field would be tasteful and elegant.

Downhill skiers could careen down the slopes at nearby Wisp.

Ski jumpers could soar over Federal Hill.

Lugers could barrel down my alley or any of the many others that need repaving around town.

Figure skaters could preen and spin on the outdoor rink behind the tennis courts at Patterson Park. (If the IOC insisted, we could replace the "trash bag" roof that collapsed during the blizzard last year.)

Of course, Baltimore's chances of procuring a Winter Olympics are small.

"The Bandits just don't draw enough," Samaranch would tell us.

The Summer Games are more exciting, anyway. Just ask Richard Jewell.

The city's best chance of getting in on the Summer Olympics would be as part of a Washington/Baltimore package encompassing all of Maryland. That's a realistic proposition.

The only problem is that the Olympic charter states that the Games must be awarded to one host city. We know which of the two would hog the spotlight.

Besides, does anyone really think that Baltimore and Washington could work together on something like this?

Not after the big Redskins-Ravens game in famed Raljon later this year.

No, we're probably on our own in this thing. And that's fine. We have enough to offer as a potential Olympic site.

We're already the beach volleyball capital of the Mid-Atlantic states, after holding last year's Olympic trials.

We could put on an unbeatable Olympic Arts Festival, starting with a complete John Waters film retrospective.

We don't have to spend a penny on whitewater kayaking. We already have the perfect venue -- the Jones Falls.

That's an attractive package, needless to say. If we can get Samaranch hooked on duckpin bowling, I think we're in.

Pub Date: 2/12/97

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