Summit in 2000 may be targeted Media showcase could help region get 2012 Olympiad

July 31, 1998|By June Arney | June Arney,SUN STAFF

Baltimore may enter the national bidding to entertain top U.S. Olympic hopefuls and about 400 media outlets in the 2000 U.S. Olympic Media Summit shortly before the Sydney, Australia, Games.

The Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association is researching the availability of hotel rooms for May or June 2000 and assessing the cost and the potential return.

Such events are the kind the Washington-Baltimore Regional 2012 Coalition hopes to attract as it tries to secure the Summer Olympic Games for that year.

"We need to bring it in front of the Olympic committee folks to see if this is something we want to move ahead on," said Carroll R. Armstrong, president and chief executive officer of the visitors association. "It would be a joint decision."

The media summit showcases leading Olympic hopefuls, bringing together the top athletes in 28 sports, the national news media, Olympic sponsors and the U.S. Olympic Committee and the national governing bodies, the administrative bodies for Olympic sports, for three days of news conferences, interviews, photo sessions and social events.

"That's a big deal," said John Moag, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority and a member of the Washington-Baltimore coalition. "It's something we're going to be very serious about."

Whether it's the Whitbread global yacht race, a swim meet or other sporting events, the opportunity to show the athletic world that the region can play host to top-notch events has taken on a new significance with an Olympic bid in the works. But the events must be chosen wisely, Moag and others say.

"We'll probably compete now because we want people to start to get to know us," Moag said. "It's important that the people who decide whether or not we're going to win get to see all parts of our area. One of our jobs would be to be sure that all our areas get some of the events."

For instance, there has been discussion of Washington as a possible site for the 2003 Olympic Congress, the annual convention of the Olympic movement, according to a spokeswoman for the Washington Convention and Visitors Association.

Although the media summit is attractive because of the approximately 400 media outlets that attend, it is not a prerequisite to being chosen as host for the Olympics, said Mike Moran, a spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee.

"This event has no bearing at any level on the 2012 bid process," he said. "It doesn't help it. It doesn't hurt it. It's not even on the radar screen. We don't want the cities to think that."

Competition for the media summit is likely to be tough. The eight other cities competing for the 2012 Olympics also were mailed bid specifications this month by the USOC. An additional 25 cities also were invited to bid.

The cities competing with the Washington-Baltimore bid for the 2012 Games and likely to try for the media summit are San Francisco, Cincinnati, Houston, New York, Seattle, Tampa-Orlando, Fla., Los Angeles and Arlington, Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth corridor.

This is the first time the USOC has put the summit out for bid. Usually, the organization simply chooses a city.

The event has grown so big that cities have started to express interest in holding it, Moran said. He hopes to make a decision by Thanksgiving.

Interested cities are to send their bids to the USOC by Sept. 30. The media summit will be held about 100 days before the Games begin in Sydney.

The host city will need 300 rooms for media, athletes, sponsors and staff members, along with three ballrooms and a photo area of about 5,000 square feet. Additional activities, sightseeing, sports activities and museums can be part of the bid.

Olympic media summits began in 1984 before the Summer Games in Los Angeles. They were held in Colorado Springs, Colo., shortly before each Olympiad until 1996, when the event was moved to Atlanta for the Summer Games there. Salt Lake City was host for this year's media summit before the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. The 2002 media summit also will be held in Salt Lake City.

In June, the Baltimore-Washington area made the commitment to seek the 2012 Summer Games.

The U.S. competition for those Games will be narrowed to an unspecified number of finalists in March 2002.

The final selection of a U.S. city will be made by the USOC that year and will compete against international competitors. A host city will be chosen in 2005.

Pub Date: 7/31/98

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