City Bid On Games Likely

$100,000 Application Fee Is Expected By Usoc Soon For 2008 Olympics

Moag Feeling `Very Good'

Six Other U.s. Cities To Try To Take First Step

April 29, 1997|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

After months of discussion, it appears that Baltimore will file a formal bid this week to hold the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Thursday is the deadline imposed by the U.S. Olympic Committee for potential host cities to submit the forms and a $100,000 application fee.

That money has been raised on behalf of Baltimore, and USOC officials say they believe a bid from Baltimore is forthcoming.

State and city officials have been working for weeks to line up support and raise the cash for the application.

Maryland Stadium Authority chairman John Moag, who has spearheaded the effort, declined to say if a bid will be made, but said he will meet again today with Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke on the topic.

"The odds are a little bit better than 50-50," Moag said. He said the next few days would be filled with "making sure all the cars are on the track" for the bid to go forward.

"What I have been doing is the most important thing, and that's going out and beating on the CEOs' doors," Moag said.

"I feel very good about it," he added.

Moag said the $100,000 payment -- refundable only if the USOC decides not to seek the Games -- has been raised from private sources he declined to name.

Schmoke, whose signature is required on the city's formal bid, would not confirm or deny yesterday that a bid will be made.

"As we try to market ourselves as an international city, it would be a great way of exposing the rest of the world to the strengths of the city. We have the facilities in the Baltimore metropolitan area to support the Olympics. I think we could present a very competitive bid," Schmoke said.

Baltimore first would have to win the endorsement of USOC officials, who are expected to decide by mid-June whether to seek the 2008 Games. If the committee decides to bid, it will select a city, probably in the next two years, to be the country's official entrant in the international voting to be conducted in 2001.

The competition is likely to be fierce at every level: The USOC already has received bids and $100,000 payments on behalf of Houston, Seattle and Cincinnati. Four more are expected.

"We're led to believe we will be receiving bid packets and checks from New York, San Francisco, Baltimore and Washington," USOC spokesman Michael Moran said.

Boston and Chicago, among the original hopefuls, have dropped out.

The winning city will be picked by the International Olympic Committee in October 2001. A number of geopolitical factors have Olympic watchers predicting the United States will not get the Games again so soon after last summer's Atlanta Games and the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. But the 2008 applicant may simultaneously be endorsed for 2012 and even coupled with a 2016 bid.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening said he is all for a bid as long as it doesn't require significant public spending.

"Obviously, if it could work out in a way that didn't require tax dollars to get to the next level, then it would be a terrific opportunity," Glendening said.

Merely bidding for the Games is costly. The USOC has told the applicants to expect to pay $3 million to $5 million over a year or two to mount an effective campaign to win the national endorsement.

The city that becomes the official U.S. candidate can spend another $30 million trying to land the Games, including an international sales effort and detailed plans for new venues. Baltimore's boosters say most of the money can be raised privately.

If the city wins, the Games can generate a profit. The host city earns millions of dollars from tickets, merchandise, sponsorships and a big share of the international television rights fees.

The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games is expected to announce this summer a small profit from its Games, despite a $1.6 billion budget. The Games financed a new baseball stadium and downtown park for the city, among other things.

If Baltimore wins the nomination, it would have to build an Olympic Village to house the athletes and fill in missing venues, such as a swimming and diving facility and arena. Backers note that the state has a 5-year-old baseball park and is building a pair of new NFL stadiums that could house many of the events.

But the Games are an enormous undertaking, and international Olympic officials will demand a financial guarantee from local government officials to meet the city's obligations.

Moag said he is not discouraged from the guarantee requirement, adopted in the wake of the Atlanta Games. International officials have complained about the commercialization of those Games, and want to see more public and less visible corporate backing.

"Performance guarantees are not an issue unless you win. If we win the Olympics and we have to build an Olympic Village or something else, there will be performance guarantees. You always have performance guarantees when you build things," Moag said.

Maryland attorney Paul Levy, who has helped research a possible bid for the city, said, "It's looking awfully good" for Baltimore to be among the contenders.

"We are where we thought we would be at this point, and we will have more to say before the end of the week," Levy said.

Since the Winter Games in Squaw Valley, Calif., in 1960, the United States has been awarded four Olympics -- Lake Placid, N.Y., in 1980, Los Angeles in 1984, Atlanta last year and the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

The 1998 Winter Games will be in Nagano, Japan, and the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia. The host city for the 2004 Summer Games will be selected this fall. No U.S. cities are in the running. Among the top candidates: Rome; Athens, Greece; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Stockholm, Sweden; and Cape Town, South Africa.

Pub Date: 4/29/97

Sun staff writer Susan Baer contributed to this article.

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