WASHINGTON - Washington-Baltimore won high marks yesterday from a team sent to evaluate its bid for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
"How did Washington-Baltimore do? You raised the bar," said Charles H. Moore, leader of the U.S. Olympic Committee's evaluation team, at a press conference. "That's important, because this is our first city. Every other city will be judged against you."
The USOC team made the Washington-Baltimore region the first stop on its summer-long eight-city tour that ends in Los Angeles on Aug. 23-26. The other U.S. cities bidding on the 2012 Games are: Dallas, Houston, Cincinnati, New York, San Francisco and Tampa, Fla.
For the most part, the eight committee members were guarded about the region's chances.
"It's fair to say that we think this is a very real bid," said Moore, a Washington resident, in an interview after the press conference at the Ronald Reagan Building.
"The others will have to meet that challenge. Some may, and some may not. Some may exceed it."
When asked whether the local effort matched the region's formal bid to the USOC, Moore said:
"I felt that what we saw was even better than what was submitted."
The USOC executive committee may announce a list of finalists by year's end, with the U.S. candidate city to be named in October 2002.
The U.S. candidate then enters an international competition for the final site of the 2012 Games. The International Olympic Committee is expected to choose the site in 2005.
The 2012 Games are projected to have an economic impact of $5.3 billion.
The evaluation team spent two days touring key sports venues and their security command centers, plus sites proposed for opening and closing ceremonies and for media centers and the athletes' villages.
They also met with local organizers, government officials and volunteers.
Nine site evaluation team members will tour each of the bid cities.
Only eight members of that group were present on the trip to Washington-Baltimore, along with two staff members.(The ninth member is expected to make a one-day visit to the region later this month. A date for that visit has yet to be set.)
Proposed Olympic venues in Baltimore include Oriole Park at Camden Yards, where baseball would be played; PSINet Stadium, the site for soccer, and a new city arena that would be used for gymnastic events.
In Washington, the MCI Center would be used for basketball, and Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium would used for track and field events.
Prince George's Stadium in Bowie is slated for softball, and Annapolis facilities would be used for yachting, fencing, beach volleyball and modern pentathlon.
"In 2 1/2 days, we observed some impressive leadership," Moore said. "We saw a team that is completely organized and completely committed to bringing the Games to Washington-Baltimore."
Evie Dennis, a member of the site evaluation task force who has been involved with several Olympics, said the region's transportation system was "pretty good" compared with Sydney, Australia; Atlanta, and Barcelona, Spain, the sites of the last three Summer Olympic Games.
"We had some solid questions having been through Atlanta and certainly Sydney," she said. "I think with the resources you can gather in this area, you'll be OK."
The USOC evaluation team's tour was intensively planned to avoid delays and included a dry run by staff members.
Except for a 12-minute delay Monday on the MARC train ride from Camden Yards to Union Station in Washington, the team kept to its schedule.(The rail problem was corrected quickly, and the group made up time, ending up seven minutes behind schedule, according to Dan Knise, president and chief executive of the Cheseapeake Region 2012 Coalition, the group making Washington-Baltimore's bid.)
No strong message came through from USOC members about weaknesses or things that should be done differently, Knise said.
`We're going to win this'
"We are continually reassessing our bid," Knise said. "We're going to win this."
On hand yesterday to show their support were Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and Washington Mayor Anthony A. Williams.
The two traveled to Sydney last fall to see how those Games were handled.
"We are really poised to host a great Games," O'Malley said. "I hope that the USOC was impressed. We can put on the best Games that this country's ever held."