"I thought that of the eight U.S. cities, Washington-Baltimore had the best bid," said John Bevilaqua, a former Coca-Cola executive who worked on the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games. "It had the scenery, it had the water and the history, it had the venues."
Just before the prospective host cities submitted their bids to the U.S. Olympic Committee, Mitt Romney, the 2002 Winter Olympics chief, said there was "not a prayer" that one of them would get the 2012 Games.
"It wasn't helpful," Moag said dryly.
New York got the nod based in part on 9/11 sympathies. But by 2005, an unpopular U.S. president and two unpopular wars worked against the city on the international stage, and New York finished fourth out of five finalists.
Had Washington-Baltimore prevailed, the region would have benefited for years afterward from a wide variety of legacy venues to attract national competitions in swimming and diving, gymnastics and soccer — and with them, thousands of high school and college athletes and their families, Fuller said.
"Whoever gets the Olympics gets a major boost," he said. "Nobody is going to build these specialized facilities unless they get the Olympics."
So this summer, instead of fighting traffic and tourists, and finding favorite restaurants booked solid by partying dignitaries and media big-shots, Baltimore and Washington residents are watching TV along with 200 million other Americans.
And that's too bad, say the folks who have seen what the Games can do for a region.
"Yes, everybody would be stressing out right now," Neirotti said, "but there's an electricity that runs through an Olympic city that's hard to match."
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