Coalition plans to cluster athletics at five locations

Hotels, sports venues inventoried for 2012


February 16, 2000|By June Arney | June Arney,SUN STAFF

The group trying to bring the 2012 Summer Olympics to the region announced a plan yesterday that would concentrate most of the Games' sporting events in five areas.

The Washington and Baltimore downtown areas, Annapolis, Prince George's County and Fairfax County, Va., emerged as the areas of concentration after an inventory of facilities, transportation and hotel rooms by the Washington-Baltimore Regional 2012 Coalition and its consultants.

The University of Maryland, College Park would be the focal point for the Prince George's County events, and George Mason University would be the center of activities in Fairfax County.

The plan would facilitate several Olympic events taking place near one another and help create a festive atmosphere for athletes and spectators. Each area would have its own transportation network.

"One thing you do need is a certain amount of density in an area to create a celebratory atmosphere," said Dan Knise, president and CEO of the coalition. "This has the ability to create enough density to have fun, but disperses people enough that you don't have too many people in one place."

The inventory found that the region has 70 outdoor stadiums with 3,000 or more seats and 57 indoor arenas with more than 2,000 seats that could accommodate Olympic events. Preliminary recommendations on venues for the Summer Olympics' 28 sports are scheduled to be announced next month.

"What we found was that there are more venues and more assets out there than we had originally envisioned," Knise said.

The core of the region has 65 venues, according to the inventory. That number seems more than adequate when compared with the 38 venues proposed by Athens for the 2004 Summer Games and the 35 venues planned for use in Sydney, Australia, this year, Knise said.

The inventory also showed that the region has more than 100,000 hotel rooms, compared with 36,180 for the Sydney Games and 64,140 for the Atlanta Games. Sydney is expected to supplement its hotel space with rooms on cruise ships and college campuses and in private homes.

Regional public rail transportation served more than 189 million people in 1998, and the three area airports handled more than 53 million passengers in 1999, the study showed.

"That's a phenomenal ability to move people in and out," Knise said. "We know that mass transit has to be the key to this. It looks like our transit system is able to handle the crowds."

In the coming weeks, the Washington-Baltimore group also will decide on sites for opening and closing ceremonies.

"The bid is won or lost now," Knise said. "This 12 months is a critical time. You have to know what your plan is. It has to be operable."

The group must submit its bid proposal to the United States Olympic Committee by Dec. 15. The USOC then will choose one U.S. candidate city to submit to the International Olympic Committee in 2002.

Other U.S. cities expected to submit bids are: Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Tampa-Orlando, Fla.

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