- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 30, 2002

The U.S. Olympic Committee yesterday gave another high mark to the Washington-Baltimore joint bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics, keeping the area the likely front-runner before the committee makes its choice in November.
"Washington has enhanced its position, no question," said Charles Moore, chairman of the USOC's site-evaluation task force. The 14-person task force completed a rigorous two-day site review of the local bid yesterday, the last it will conduct here.
"If we were scoring today, they would definitely be higher than where they were before. They've improved their ranking against par. There are no shortfalls in this bid."
During the two-day visit, the task force visited the University of Maryland, proposed site of the Olympic Village, and RFK Stadium, where local Olympic organizers hope to place a vast Olympic sports complex housing an 85,000-seat main stadium, venues for nine sports and a media center.
Yesterday's half of the visit was dominated by a closed-door question-and-answer session lasting more than four hours and touching on nearly every key element of the local bid.
Yesterday, Mr. Moore stopped just short of saying Washington and Baltimore "raised the bar" for rival bidders New York, Houston and San Francisco to match, as he did during the USOC's initial site visit a year ago. But he went out of his way to lavish praise on the local area's sports facilities and a recently revised Olympic plan that concentrates more events in the District and downtown Baltimore.
"You go to Maryland and see the amenities they have for the athletes there, and you just drool. It's absolutely a dream situation for the athletes," Mr. Moore said. "And the new RFK plan, the creation of the Olympic sports complex, clearly helped their bid. They made great strides there by consolidating their cluster areas."
The USOC task force will visit New York today and tomorrow, and Houston and San Francisco July 12-15. In September, the USOC will select two bidders from the four and will make its final selection during a board meeting Nov. 2 and 3 in Colorado. That winner will be in a three-year global competition for the Games.
At the USOC meeting in November, each bid will be judged on nine primary criteria: sports infrastructure, general infrastructure, accommodations, Olympic Village, transportation, finance, international strategy, partnerships and Paralympic planning.
Between now and November, the Chesapeake Region 2012 Coalition, the local bid group, will have a few small windows in which to submit supplemental information to the USOC. But now that the final site visit is over, the USOC's information-gathering for the bid is essentially complete.
"There is nothing that the USOC is looking for that we haven't provided," said John Morton, coalition chairman. "We haven't missed anything."
It appears coalition officials have allayed USOC concerns regarding transportation, believed to be the committee's key question regarding the bid. After the site visit last year, several USOC members said they were not sure whether the area's network of roadways and public transportation could keep up with the burgeoning population. By shifting numerous events from areas such as Annapolis and Fairfax to within one mile of a Metro station, the coalition worked around the transportation questions.
"They addressed our questions, no doubt," Mr. Moore said. "It's hard to fault the transportation system here."
The local bid also scored with the USOC with a conservative financial plan. A revision in April of the coalition's written Olympic plan downgraded the projected operating profit from $279 million to $92 million. Only two modern Olympic Games the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City have shown an operating profit. But New York, San Francisco and Houston are projecting heavy surpluses, in New York's case one of more than $1 billion.
"We laid it all out there during this visit, and they saw that we have a realistic, feasible yet still flexible bid," said Dan Knise, coalition executive director. "They saw our best. They met our best, and we did our absolute best."


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