- The Washington Times - Friday, June 28, 2002

Dan Knise, chief executive of the Washington-Baltimore joint bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics, actively sought to be first in the final U.S. Olympic Committee site visits of candidate cities. Now the pressure is on to meet his goal of raising the bar once more in the domestic race for the Games.

The USOC's bid evaluation task force will be in the area today and tomorrow for what will be a pivotal review of the local bid. Washington is competing against San Francisco, New York and Houston and the USOC visit will be the final in-person look at the area before the USOC selects the U.S. 2012 candidate in November.

During initial USOC visits to the 2012 bid cities last summer, Washington was first up, and according to Charles Moore, bid evaluation task force chairman, it "raised the bar" for the other cities to match. Clearly, local Olympic advocates are aiming for a repeat performance. But due to the compressed USOC schedule, they will have about 14 waking hours to sum up more than four years of frenetic planning and work.

"Clearly, this is an important time for us to shine. But we're ready and we think we have a great story to tell," Knise said. "We have put together a bid that really showcases our area and really utilizes the existing resources we have."

The Chesapeake Region 2012 Coalition the formal name for the Washington-Baltimore bid submitted a drastic reorganization of its plan in April. The changes will be the focus of this second USOC visit.

The coalition scrapped a regional hub network where events were scattered and replaced it with a proposal that has the sports concentrated in the District and Baltimore. The centerpiece of the new plan, and the entire local Olympic bid, is a proposed Olympic Sports Complex (OSC) on the 90-acre site of RFK Stadium and D.C. Armory along the Anacostia River. The site would house nine sports, including track and field and swimming, as well as a media center and Olympic plaza.

The OSC addresses a request by the USOC to centralize the geographic layout of venue sites. San Francisco made a similar move in April, shifting several events from Sacramento back into the Bay Area, and both revisions have been positively received by USOC officials.

"Out of the four cities left, Washington and San Francisco definitely made the most changes to their plans," said USOC spokesman Bob Condron. "The changes streamline and consolidate their plans, and they're definitely good changes. But we have four very solid cities remaining, and the site visits, while still one part of the broader selection process, should be very illuminating."

Prior to the final November selection of the U.S. candidate city, the USOC will cut two of the four bids, probably around Labor Day. The winning city will then compete in a global competition that will last until 2005 and will likely include Moscow, London, Paris and numerous other global hubs.

In recent years, sentiment developed within the International Olympic Committee to begin steering the Olympics away from the United States, where they have now been four times since 1980. But the highly successful 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City is believed to have changed many minds within the Olympic community.

Today will be a show-and-tell day for the coalition. They will take the task force to the Thurgood Marshall Center in Northwest; the University of Maryland, proposed site of the Olympic Village; and RFK Stadium. The group will not go to Baltimore as they did during the first visit. The coalition did not make any major changes to its plan regarding that city.

Tomorrow will be a more intense day with coalition officials subjected to several rigorous hours of detailed questioning on a myriad of topics including transportation, security and financing. Current proposed budgets prepared by the coalition call for a locally held Games costing $2.5 billion and yielding an operating surplus of $92 million.

"This is the nation's capital and we think we can provide an Olympic experience that is second to none," said Bobby Goldwater, executive director of the D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission, which operates RFK. "We feel strongly about our plan, the informal feedback we've received has been positive. Now we have to convey all this to [the USOC].

Following the local visit, the USOC task force will visit New York (Sunday and Monday), Houston (July12-13) and San Francisco (July14-15).

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