A run for the 2012 Olympics

December 04, 1998

This is an edited excerpt of comments made at a community forum last month on Baltimore-Washington cooperation sponsored by The Sun. These remarks concern the region's prospective bid to play host to the Olympics.

DOUGLAS M. Duncan, county executive, Montgomery County -- Getting together (with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke) and talking about what our needs are, what our concerns are and ways we can help each other is going to be so important, and the 2012 Olympics is a great way to get together. . . . The benefit of working to get that bid, of working toward having the Olympics here really isn't so much in the sports infrastructure . . . we've got that in place. We've done that, the state and the two regions have done a lot of that, but it's getting the telecommunications infrastructure, it's getting the transportation infrastructure, it's getting the technology infrastructure in place to handle something like the Olympics that's going to be of long-lasting benefit.

Kurt L. Schmoke, mayor, Baltimore -- We have a wonderful opportunity with respect to the Olympics because I think that this bid helps to focus us as a region in a way that no other activity over the last decade has been able to do both from a political point of view and an economic development point of view. It really makes concrete all these concepts that we're talking about, and it is forcing us to address a number of important issues that we know will be very significant to those who are looking at our Olympic bid.

Also, I think it will impact such issues as transportation and welfare reform because we are trying to get people out to jobs. This Olympic bid is helping to focus action. Our City Council recently met with the CEO of the Washington Baltimore Coalition for the 2012 Games and went over the bid process, took action to adopt a resolution in support of the process. One of our council members mentioned at the time, you know, this would be a good opportunity for the Baltimore City Council and a lot of the newly elected people from the Washington, D.C., City Council to get together to talk about some of our concerns. So the council people are taking action on that, and I believe there are a number of other jurisdictions in which that will occur. So I think that that's very important if they develop a common agenda on just a couple of issues where we can work on -- environmental issues, transportation, maybe education matters and support of the arts. These things will help bring us together more as a common region.

Kenneth R. Sparks, executive vice president, Federal City Council -- This Olympics that's coming along is a tremendous opportunity. When the Olympics were held in Atlanta, there was about a $5 billion payoff to the Atlanta region, about half of which came in the money that visitors spent during the two weeks that they were there. The other half, which came from television rights and other kinds of income that the Olympics generate. In their case, they spent a lot of money on facilities for the Olympics themselves. The great thing that we have going for us is that most of those facilities already exist here. . . . The obstacles are terrific, not the least of which is communication. Just talking to everybody that you have to touch base with when you're operating in two states, the District of Columbia, different cities, different counties and political jurisdictions. We've already stubbed our toes more than once in terms of not communicating as clearly and as often as we should. We've got to learn that. Getting around this region is difficult, and I hope that one of the legacies of the Olympics will be that we will really get in and improve transportation.

Ioanna T. Morfessis, president and chief executive officer, Greater Baltimore Alliance -- We really do have to communicate the vision of what this can be for all of our citizens because, as you may know, I visited with John Moag (chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority). We went to Stockholm a year ago when they were in the process of bidding for the Olympics, and they did a wonderful job. They ended up not getting their bid, but there was a real division in the community . . . and not everybody understood why, what the impacts were going to be and the wonderful possibilities.

It's a gargantuan economic development competition because we are competing right now with seven other markets. . . . Some of these communities like Los Angeles have gone through this before so they would be better at it supposedly the second time around. So our competition just to become the winning city bid in the United States is quite intense. Between now and 2002, there are a variety of steps we have to take.

We're going to need at least 50,000 volunteers, and maybe by 2012, you'll need 100,000 volunteers. Do you have the capacity to mobilize those people within your community? It can't happen in just one single market so a lot of little baby steps need to be achieved along the way, but I would say that everyone who has participated thus far really believes as I do that we will win.

Pub Date: 12/04/98

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