McKay, Ripken join quest to land the 2012 Olympics They're on committee along with Lynch, Shriver and Hill

The Games

December 09, 1998|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

ABC broadcaster Jim McKay joined Baltimore Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr. yesterday in supporting Washington and Baltimore's bid to play host to the 2012 Olympic Games by joining the regional organizing committee.

McKay, who has lived in Baltimore since he was 15, announced his support next to Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and members of the Washington-Baltimore Regional 2012 Coalition. McKay, a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee Hall of Fame, has broadcast 10 Olympics.

"This is another significant step forward in our march to establish credibility in our bid for the Olympics," said Dan Knise, recently appointed president and chief executive of the bid committee. Also joining the committee are 1996 Olympic silver medal gymnast Jair Lynch; Baltimore resident and Olympic gold medal tennis player Pam Shriver; and Grant Hill, a Northern Virginia native who plays professional basketball with the Detroit Pistons and won an Olympic gold medal.

Hill and Shriver did not attend the news conference yesterday in Baltimore.

The drive to bring the 2012 Games to Washington and Baltimore has been gaining momentum with the involvement of business giants such as NationsBank Corp. A group of area business people began meeting in December 1997 about creating a joint bid that would include holding events in both cities, their suburbs and at surrounding universities. The coalition is searching for a consultant to help draft a 600-page bid proposal to the U.S. Olympic Committee by March 31, 2000. The plan must address 19 issues, including transportation and housing athletes. The U.S. committee will choose a location as the U.S. candidate in 2002. The International Olympic Committee will name the winner in 2005.

"It's not something in the future," Schmoke said yesterday. "It's something we have to continue working on month to month, year to year, until the Games are here."

Washington-Baltimore will compete against Houston, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, New York and Tampa-Orlando, Fla.

Winning the bid could be an economic boon to Baltimore resulting in business development and high-speed rail service between the two cities.

Atlanta, where the 1996 Summer Olympics were held, estimated that it brought $5 billion in revenue to the region, created more than 80,000 jobs, and generated between $100 million and $200 million in tax revenue.

A key to the bid success will be the selection of the host city for the 2008 Games. Beijing and Toronto are dueling for the honor, Knise said. If Toronto is selected, the world Olympic committee would be hard pressed to return to North America in 2012, he said. That decision is expected by 2001.

McKay is interested in being part of the Olympic movement from the organizational side, he said. He commended Washington and Baltimore -- cities that have had fierce rivalries dating back to the Civil War -- for working together but could not shy away from taking a jab.

"We have a lovely suburb called Washington," McKay said chuckling. "It's the first time that I know that the two cities have joined together in a significant way."

Coalition Chairman John Morton III, head of Charlotte, N.C.-based NationsBank's mid-Atlantic region, said Ripken, who

holds the record for consecutive baseball games played, will serve as an inspiration for the committee during its long road ahead in winning the Games.

"Bringing the Olympics here is mind boggling in a way," Ripken said. "Seeing how Washington and Baltimore are coming together is encouraging to me. Let's get it done."

Pub Date: 12/09/98

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