- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2002

SALT LAKE CITY District Mayor Anthony A. Williams is hoping that if the Washington area's bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics is successful, it will result in an added benefit the return of the Washington Redskins to the city.

On a trip to Salt Lake City to promote Washington and to observe Olympic operations, Mayor Williams yesterday said he hopes that a proposed 85,000-seat Olympic stadium can be used to lure the Redskins back into the city limits.

"I've told [Redskins owner] Dan Snyder this," Williams said yesterday. "I would like to build a first-rate, premier track and field facility where we could hold some of the best track and field events in the world, the best soccer events in the world, and one day host the Washington Redskins back in our hometown. That's my dream."

The Redskins last played in the District in RFK Stadium in 1996, moving the following season into what was then called Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Landover in Prince George's County, a $180 million stadium built by the late Redskins owner.

Cooke made a deal with Maryland officials to stay at that location for 30 years, in return for $70 million worth of infrastructure work paid for by the state, which also gets 10 percent of stadium revenue in the form of an entertainment tax. Since buying the team in 1999, Snyder has made an estimated $30 million in improvements, and sold the naming rights to Federal Express for what is now called FedEx Field.

Williams arrived in Salt Lake City Monday night and will stay for several days as part of his promotional and observational tour. Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley is expected to join him today, and they will be accompanied by Dan Knise, president and chief executive officer of the Chesapeake Region 2012 Coalition, the organization seeking to bring the 2012 Summer Olympics to the Washington-Baltimore area.

While officials cannot openly promote the region's bid, they believe they can do some important groundwork for what is ultimately a sales pitch to convince U.S. Olympic Committee officials and eventually International Olympic Committee members that the region could successfully play host to the 2012 Games.

"We can't promote the city's bid, per se," Williams said. "That's against the Olympic rules. But we can promote the city, and that is what we are trying to do promote Washington, D.C., and the region, Baltimore, Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay area. The message is that we're on the way back. We're resurgent. We're a great place to be. We know how to do big events. We can do events like this without breaking a sweat."

The USOC is scheduled to chose its host city by November. Knise said the coalition is "working to refine" its bid now, which is due back to the USOC by mid-April. USOC officials will then return to the area for a second site inspection on June 28 and 29.

"We need to show them we know what we are doing during that visit," Knise said. "But our major challenge is just selling the strength of our bid. We will be involved in a marketing campaign to make sure that not only the people in our region, but the broader sports community knows about the strengths of our Washington regional Olympic bid."

Williams and others also will be closely observing what has been the primary focus of preparation for these Games since September 11 security. They will be touring one of the security command centers around Salt Lake City today.

Last night Williams was scheduled to attend a USOC reception, and tonight will be meeting with members of the 2012 coalition. He attended the pairs figure skating competition Monday night, and was scheduled to go to ski jumping today.

It won't be all business, though. Williams spent much of the day yesterday with Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, and though they discussed the challenges of playing host to the Games, they also went on a ski trip.

"He is an excellent skier," Mayor Williams said. "I used to be a very good skier, but I hadn't skied in a long time. I've been with good skiers for the couple of days I've been on this trip, in Sun Valley and here. So I am definitely advancing back to where I want to be. I had skied on a regular basis about 20 years ago. I haven't fallen yet, but we will definitely fall."

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