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McKay, Ripken join quest to land the 2012 Olympics

ABC broadcaster Jim McKay joined Baltimore Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr.yesterday in supporting Washington and Baltimore's bid to play host to the2012 Olympic Games by joining the regional organizing committee.

McKay, who has lived in Baltimore since he was 15, announced his supportnext to Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and members of the Washington-Baltimore Regional2012 Coalition. McKay, a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee Hall of Fame,has broadcast 10 Olympics.

"This is another significant step forward in our march to establishcredibility in our bid for the Olympics," said Dan Knise, recently appointedpresident and chief executive of the bid committee. Also joining the committeeare 1996 Olympic silver medal gymnast Jair Lynch; Baltimore resident andOlympic gold medal tennis player Pam Shriver; and Grant Hill, a NorthernVirginia native who plays professional basketball with the Detroit Pistons andwon an Olympic gold medal.

Hill and Shriver did not attend the news conference yesterday inBaltimore.

The drive to bring the 2012 Games to Washington and Baltimore has beengaining momentum with the involvement of business giants such as NationsBankCorp. A group of area business people began meeting in December 1997 aboutcreating a joint bid that would include holding events in both cities, theirsuburbs and at surrounding universities. The coalition is searching for aconsultant to help draft a 600-page bid proposal to the U.S. Olympic Committeeby March 31, 2000. The plan must address 19 issues, including transportationand housing athletes. The U.S. committee will choose a location as the U.S.candidate in 2002. The International Olympic Committee will name the winner in2005.

"It's not something in the future," Schmoke said yesterday. "It'ssomething we have to continue working on month to month, year to year, untilthe Games are here."

Washington-Baltimore will compete against Houston, Cincinnati, LosAngeles, San Francisco, Dallas, New York and Tampa-Orlando, Fla.

Winning the bid could be an economic boon to Baltimore resulting inbusiness development and high-speed rail service between the two cities.

Atlanta, where the 1996 Summer Olympics were held, estimated that itbrought $5 billion in revenue to the region, created more than 80,000 jobs,and generated between $100 million and $200 million in tax revenue.

A key to the bid success will be the selection of the host city for the2008 Games. Beijing and Toronto are dueling for the honor, Knise said. IfToronto is selected, the world Olympic committee would be hard pressed toreturn to North America in 2012, he said. That decision is expected by 2001.

McKay is interested in being part of the Olympic movement from theorganizational side, he said. He commended Washington and Baltimore -- citiesthat have had fierce rivalries dating back to the Civil War -- for workingtogether but could not shy away from taking a jab.

"We have a lovely suburb called Washington," McKay said chuckling. "It'sthe first time that I know that the two cities have joined together in asignificant way."

Coalition Chairman John Morton III, head of Charlotte, N.C.-basedNationsBank's mid-Atlantic region, said Ripken, whoholds the record for consecutive baseball games played, will serve as aninspiration for the committee during its long road ahead in winning the Games.

"Bringing the Olympics here is mind boggling in a way," Ripken said."Seeing how Washington and Baltimore are coming together is encouraging to me.Let's get it done."

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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