USOC fields pitches from potential Olympic hosts
SAN DIEGO — San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom envisions a 2016 Summer Olympics with marathoners crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, cyclists pedaling through the Presidio and sailors navigating his city’s scenic bay.
If sprawling Los Angeles is given a chance to host its third Olympics, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa thinks the games would be more compact and easier to get to than in 1984, and in several venues built since those successful games.
Mayor Richard M. Daley promises games presented “Chicago style.”
Houston has big-hitting businessmen and some big venues on its side, and Philadelphia has history.
Those five cities made their pitches Friday to the U.S. Olympic Committee board of directors, which is deciding whether to bid on the 2016 Games.
Each city had 15 minutes to make its presentation and 15 minutes to answer questions from USOC officials.
Last month, USOC officials made a barnstorming tour of the five cities and met with leaders to lay the groundwork for a possible bid.
Delegation officials said the USOC asked them not to divulge specifics, and they probably wouldn’t anyway, since they don’t want to give away secrets.
In separate news conferences, the delegations touched on generalities of their presentations.
• Chicago, represented by Daley and businessmen Miles White and Pat Ryan, promised enthusiastic support from corporations, compact games in a city known for skyscrapers and Lake Michigan shoreline, mass transit and ethnic diversity.
“I described it as an American experience, Chicago style,” Daley said. “That’s very important. We want the Olympics to come back to America. This is an opportunity to showcase middle America.”
• Houston Mayor Bill White was accompanied by Astros owner Drayton McLane and businessman George DeMontrond. They touted the city’s leadership and financial resources, including several Fortune 500 companies.
“I think Houston will do very well in a process that’s based on objective criteria,” White said.
McLane said he’s impressed with Houston’s can-do attitude. “We said that we feel people will really rally behind this, and the business community will support it wholeheartedly.”
• Los Angeles mayor Villaraigosa brought along Janet Evans, a swimmer who won four Olympic gold medals.
“Look, I’ll tell you, in a synopsis of what we said today, L.A. is the place where the world comes together,” Villaraigosa told reporters, describing his city’s ethnic diversity.
“We have 38 Olympic-quality venues for 26 Olympic events. So I can tell you we have the capacity in this region,” said Villaraigosa, who also touted his car-loving city’s expanding mass transit.
Villaraigosa isn’t concerned that the USOC may favor another city since L.A. is the only U.S. city to host two Summer Games.
“I’m not hearing that,” he said. “I think we’ve got a very strong bid, frankly.”
• San Francisco mayor Newsom painted a postcard-quality picture of athletes competing on and around his city’s famous landmarks.
“Love or hate our city, those are pretty iconic backdrops for sport that certainly have international identity,” he said.
“We didn’t want to overpromise, at the same time, we don’t want to underpromise what we think are the attributes of the San Francisco Bay Area,” he added.
Newsom said his city could succeed because of its “unique international status, because of our identity and affinity toward social justice movements, and the fact that San Francisco oftentimes does stand alone in terms of international perception and prestige.”
• Philadelphia was the only city not represented by its mayor.
Stephanie Naidoff, commerce director for the City of Brotherly Love, said she had “every confidence that Philadelphia can deliver on the Olympic dream that not only will make the U.S. Olympic Committee proud, but will make all of America proud.”
Asked about venues, she said: “We believe we have most of what we need.”
The USOC wants to identify a potential bid city before the International Olympic Committee sends out requests for bids next spring. The IOC will pick a city in 2009.
USOC chairman Peter Ueberroth, the architect of the 1984 Games, said before last month’s tour that the USOC will be patient in the process.
“We’re seeking a partner that has a very good chance to win,” he said.