- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 9, 2002

It all comes down to 14 hours.
The joint Washington-Baltimore bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics will boil down to those precious few hours late this month after more than three years of work, about $9million in donated cash, services and pledges, and tens of thousands of man-hours spent in planning and preparation.
The U.S. Olympic Committee bid evaluation task force will visit the local area June 28-29, and the trip carries an all-or-nothing weight to it. The visit will be the USOC's last chance to see the area before both a September cutdown of four American finalists to two, and the final selection in early November.
A good showing by local bid officials puts Washington and Baltimore already perceived by many to be a front-runner in the domestic dash that also includes New York, San Francisco and Houston in prime position to take on the rest of the world. A poor performance could kill the area's chances for the Olympics for at least a generation.
The Chesapeake Region 2012 Coalition has faced several key checkpoints in the 2012 bid process before, namely the USOC's first site visit a year ago and the initial cutdown of cities last October. Should the local bid advance into the International Olympic Committee bidding, which will last into 2005, plenty more hurdles await.
But right now, the upcoming site visit and the preparations for it culminate everything coalition officials have worked for to date, a fact they're all too aware of.
"We're certainly getting late in the fourth quarter now," said Dan Knise, coalition president and executive director. "There's a lot of pressure. But I like to think we thrive on these scenarios and can handle that."
The primary focus of the site visit will be to show task force members the changes in bid strategy since last June. More than a dozen proposed event venues have been moved, concentrated less in the suburbs and much more in downtown Washington and Baltimore and closer to mass transit. The Olympic Sports Complex (OSC), a multi-use waterfront facility on the grounds of RFK Stadium and the D.C. Armory, was drafted to become the centerpiece of the local bid.
Security plans have been tightened significantly, efforts to leave a significant post-Games legacy have been beefed up and financial projections have been revised. Most notably on that last point, the projected profit of a locally held Olympics has been reduced from $279million to $92million to account for increased spending on the Paralympic Games, security and other infrastructure needs.
San Francisco made a similarly heavy number of changes to its bid, while Houston and New York chose to remain mostly unchanged for the final domestic round.
Showing and explaining all those local changes will be crammed into the 14 hours. On June 28, coalition officials will take the task force to RFK Stadium and review the proposed OSC and then head to College Park, site of the proposed Olympic village at the University of Maryland. Baltimore, Annapolis and Northern Virginia, all still key areas in the local Olympic plan, most likely will be skipped for this visit.
The second day will be the proverbial interrogation under a naked light bulb in which task force members will pose question after question behind closed doors on the technical elements of the bid.
"This is the final chapter, the last chance for each city to put their best foot forward," said USOC spokesman Bob Condron. "The visits and all the questions are the culmination of the previous visits, thousands of pages of documents, literally every piece of data we've received on each bid."
The USOC task force will proceed on the other cities from here, completing the site visits by July 15. Like last year's preliminary site visits, the District is up first. It's a position Knise relishes and specifically sought out. Last year task force chairman Charles Moore said the local area "raised the bar" for the other cities to match, and Knise believes the statement from the usually closed-mouth USOC carried real weight.
"We feel like we have a great story to tell, that it can stand up [over time] and set the standard for the rest of the field," Knise said. "I'd much rather go first than last."
But this race ultimately is not about the first city out of the chute, but the last one standing.
"All the things you could want for an Olympics are here. We fervently believe that," Knise said. "We'll make our case, and I think at the end we'll still be there."


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