The Olympic flame may not be extinguished along the Chesapeake Bay.
A key organizer of the region's unsuccessful bid for the 2012 Summer Games is gauging interest in making a run at the 2024 Games. Dan Knise, president and CEO of the Washington-Baltimore 2012 Regional Coalition, believes "there's a little bit of a spark" in the region for another try.
"There have been some informal discussions with people. The energy the Olympics create, the optimism it creates, I feel that again. I'm optimistic," said Knise, who was in London with his family to watch the Games but also hoped to "take the temperature" of Olympic decision-makers.
Several businessmen involved in the 2012 bid and local political figures supported the idea of another bid by the region, though none had spoken to Knise.
"I think it's worth exploring," saidM.J. "Jay" Brodie, who retired Friday as president ofBaltimore Development Corp.and was involved in the 2012 bid. "It isn't inexpensive. It requires certain dollars and people's time. It can't just be done with government. There has to be major public and private contributions to make it happen."
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie-Rawlings Blake said in a statement: "It would be a fantastic opportunity to showcase the region. And we would do a phenomenal job hosting the world elite athletes and fans from around the world."
John Moag Jr., former chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, said all the things that made the region attractive in 2012 remain, including having "the largest sports infrastructure in a 40-mile radius."
In its 2012 bid, the Washington-Baltimore coalition noted that it had a number of existing facilities that could be used, including an athletes' village and stadiums, fields and gymnasiums. A 2000 study projected that the Olympics would cost $2 billion to build and run, with a return of $5.3 billion in total economic impact — $6.7 billion in today's dollars. The lead-up to the 2012 Summer Games was expected to support the creation of nearly 70,000 jobs.
"We'd be very interested in learning more about any organized efforts that might be under way to bring the 2024 Olympics to our state, " said Terry Hasseltine, the state Department of Business and Economic Development's director of sports marketing. "That being said, we'll take our cue from the USOC."
Knise's informal discussions are just the beginning of a long process that would include building a coalition, identifying sponsors, raising millions of dollars, and submitting an application to U.S. Olympic Committee. The application would cover issues such as facilities, transportation, volunteers and security.
Last month, the USOC signaled its readiness to bid again for the Olympics after losing out on the 2012 Games, when the International Olympic Committee favored London over New York City, and the 2016 Summer Games, when Chicago was the first city cut.
The 2016 Summer Games are scheduled for Rio de Janiero; the 2020 host city has yet to be named, but the finalists are Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul.
An exploratory committee will report to the USOC in December about the feasibility of a U.S. bid for the 2024 Summer Games or the 2026 Winter Games. The target will most likely be the Summer Games, which are larger and more profitable.
Already there is speculation that Chicago, Dallas, New York and Philadelphia are interested. On the international level, Toronto has declared its intention to bid and just days ago French President Francois Hollande said Paris might be a contender.
The International Olympic Committee will choose the host city in 2017.
"We do incredibly well when stacked up against other regions," said David Warchawski, a Baltimore public relations executive, who also participated in the 2012 bid. "Yes, we would have to build, but we are so much further along than other cities. Baltimore and Washington are well-versed in handling security and high-value personalities. We are well-poised to put on a strong bid."
John Bevilaqua, an official with the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games, called a Washington-Baltimore bid "doable," noting that there is "huge value" in the kind of experience the coalition leaders have.
"If you've run a marathon before, you know what you're taking on. This is a three-, four-year run and burnout is high. And that's just the beginning of another seven-year run to the opening ceremony," Bevilaqua said.
One thing working in favor of an East Coast bid will be the desire of the U.S. television broadcaster to keep expenses down. NBC lost $225 million on the Beijing Games and spent $4.38 billion for the rights through 2020.
"Whoever it is will have some say with the IOC because they're writing the big check," Bevilaqua said.
Knise said he's aware of how grueling a new bid would be. Any bid would need fresh support.
"We need a new generation of community leaders," said Knise, who is president and CEO of the Washington-based specialty insurance broker Ames & Gough. "The next 14 months will tell. I do think the Olympics are good for a city, good for a region."