USOC alarm doesn't deter upbeat Moag City bid called 'do-able' after sobering seminar

February 13, 1997|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA -- Cities considering a bid for the 2008 Olympics received sobering lectures yesterday on everything from legal liability to international politics, but several representatives, including those from Baltimore, came away undeterred.

"I didn't hear anything I didn't expect to hear I think it's very do-able," said Maryland Stadium Authority chairman John Moag after attending a seminar conducted by the U.S. Olympic Committee for cities considering bids.

Modern Olympics can earn their host cities more money than they cost, and can be accomplished without a significant cost to taxpayers, but they have to be carefully organized, Moag said.

He declined to say what his recommendation will be to Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, neither of whom has signed off on submitting a bid for an Olympics.

"I'm here to learn and to go back and talk to my mayor and governor," Moag said.

He attended the Philadelphia seminar with two Maryland lawyers, Keith Rosenberg of Owings Mills and Paul Levy of Kensington, who have been compiling information on a potential bid for Baltimore.

The 2004 Summer Games are scheduled to be awarded in September, with the 2008 Summer Games to be awarded in 2001.

The USOC must decide first -- probably by early June -- if it will seek the 2008 Games. When the Salt Lake City Winter Games convene in 2002, it will represent the fifth time in 40 years that the United States has put on the Games.

"I think if we have two or three cities that have enthusiasm, we would probably go ahead with it," said Richard Schultz, executive director of the USOC.

But, he added, "I think the chances of the U.S. getting the 2008 Games are pretty slim."

It will be awfully soon after the Salt Lake City Games and some international Olympic officials still harbor negative feelings about the commercialism of last summer's Atlanta Games.

Schultz said he thinks the 2012 Games are a better bet, and the USOC is considering designating a single candidate city for both the 2008 and 2012 slots.

Eight cities interested in the 2008 Games were represented yesterday: Washington, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Houston, Chicago, New York, Seattle and Boston.

Internationally, Paris, London and Cairo have publicly announced plans to bid.

Alfredo La Mont, USOC director of international relations, warned that there is a sentiment within the International Olympic Committee to award the Games to a European city for 2004 and then to Africa and South America before returning to the United States.

Other speakers warned of the increased complexity and costs in staging an Olympics. The contract signed by Moscow for the 1980 Games consisted of a single page; Salt Lake City's filled 60 pages.

But the rewards can be great. Calgary, Alberta, created a $100 million foundation that pays for the operation of the facilities left behind by the 1988 Winter Games.

Atlanta paid for a new stadium and park and estimates the Games accounted for $5 billion in local spending and 85,000 jobs.

Moag said if Maryland decided to bid for the Games, he would favor a referendum of public support first.

"I don't think government money would be needed," Moag said.

As for a regional bid in cooperation with Washington, he said, "I think D.C. could be a valuable partner, of course. But they have some big obstacles, especially financially. They lack the infrastructure that Maryland has. I would like to talk to them, but in terms of an actual host city, I think Baltimore makes more sense."

Not surprisingly, Washington sees it otherwise.

"I don't think the international community knows where Baltimore is. Washington is the capital of the free world," said Elizabeth Ganzi-Ejjam, executive director of Washington's Olympic exploration committee.

Pub Date: 2/13/97

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