Two cities, one Olympian effort Games: Joint bid by Baltimore and Washington for 2012 would allow U.S. to showcase capital to the world.

July 05, 1998

OF THE 20 Summer Olympiads that have been held outside the United States, three-quarters took place in national capitals.

It makes sense that a country would showcase its seat of government -- the most tangible symbol of its values.

That hasn't been the case in the United States, however, where St. Louis, Los Angeles and Atlanta have hosted the four summer games held in this country. That should be a consideration of the U.S. Olympic Committee as it weighs the joint bid of Baltimore and Washington to host the 2012 Olympiad.

This region hasn't always recognized itself as one. Teamwork on an Olympic bid would greatly enhance the Washington-Baltimore common market that the federal government already recognizes for statistical purposes and that exists in fact, with shared media, transportation, economic and cultural interests.

Washington lends this joint effort enormous international cache, a wealth of hotel rooms, an excellent Metro subway system and a splendid new downtown basketball arena. Baltimore offers an explosion of new hotels beginning to sprout in the vicinty of the Inner Harbor as well as the most famous new baseball stadium in America -- and within a short time a new football stadium. Each city would mount a much weaker proposal minus the other.

Public officials, led by Mayors Kurt L. Schmoke of Baltimore and Marion Barry of Washington, are working with business representatives, including Mary E. Junck, an executive of the Times Mirror corporation that owns this newspaper, to identify the next steps. One would be to find a single person to drive the effort, as Billy Payne did in Atlanta or Peter Ueberroth did in Los Angeles. Highway congestion and the need for additional sports venues must be addressed.

The Capitol dome, the marble monuments to historic leaders, the birthplace of the National Anthem -- all would form a dramatic backdrop for the games. A U.S. Olympiad in this region, and the two cities uniting for their mutual benefit, would be greatly welcomed and is overdue.

Pub Date: 7/05/98

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