DENVER -- When it was held 12 years ago in Colorado Springs, the U.S. Olympic Festival was a much different event. There were fewer athletes and a lot less media interest in what was called the National Sports Festival.
And Jim Warsinske, then the event's director of operations, had a budget of $1.5 million. "It was a lot easier, a lot smaller," said Warsinske, now the executive director for this year's Festival.
When it returns to the Rocky Mountains for a nine-day stay, starting with tonight's Opening Ceremonies at Mile High Stadium, the delegation of athletes has nearly doubled in size to around 3,700. Some 1,700 media credentials have been issued. The operating budget has ballooned to some $14 million.
And, for only the second time in its history, the Festival will be played out in three different cities. But the 90-mile radius between Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs is more than triple what it was back in 1987, when it was held in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, N.C.
"It does present a challenge for us logistically," Warsinske, the Olympic Festival's executive director, said earlier this week. "But we did it that way in order not to build any new facilities or have to raise any more money."
It's a challenge that Warsinske, his staff and the cities involved have been preparing for since they beat out Miami as the site for this year's Festival.
Warsinske said that the Festival is expected to bring some $45 million in revenue to the area, with about half of it going to Denver.
Warsinske said that the U.S. Olympic Committee's involvement in the Festival has resulted in more stringent rules when it comes to fund-raising. Only members of the Olympic family -- those corporations that have already made donations to the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta -- can be involved in the Festival.
"We couldn't go after three of our largest local-based companies -- Coors, Pepsi and Boston Chicken," said Warsinske.
Still, Warsinske and other officials are hoping that this year's Festival produces as many memories, if not records, as some of the recent competitions.
"The level of athlete has changed," said Warsinske. "Some of the sports still send their top athletes, while others send more developing athletes that might be one Olympics away."
Or, in the case of Carl Lewis, athletes who are trying to recapture some of their past glory. Lewis, a former world-record holder in both the long jump and 100-meter --, will compete in the long jump beginning July 29.
NOTES: The equestrian events for the Olympic Festival were canceled Wednesday to prevent a possibility of spreading a viral disease and could lead to a lengthy quarantine of horses. Scott Hassler of Colora, Md., was expected to compete.
Marylanders at the Festival
Joe Walter Alton, Annapolis, water polo; Patrick Thomas Donlin, Annapolis, water polo; Joseph A. Ernst, Annapolis, water polo; Molly L. O'Brien, Annapolis, racquetball; Nate Smith, Annapolis, diving; John T. Torgerson, Annapolis, sailing; Dave Van Cleef, Annapolis, sailing; Catherine Chantl Von Schwarz, Annapolis, water polo; Leith Askins, Baltimore, modern pentathlon; Peggy Boutilier, Baltimore, field hockey;
Sonia Chase, Baltimore, basketball; John Criscione, Baltimore, canoe & kayak; Susan D. Heether, Baltimore, team handball; Kevin Norris, Baltimore, basketball; Dana Anthony Rucker, Baltimore, boxing; Laurie Annette Schwoy, Baltimore, soccer; Robert Wooden, Baltimore, baseball; Jonathan M. Altman, Bethesda, canoe & kayak; Jason A. Beakes, Bethesda, canoe & kayak; Jennifer Anne Hearn, Bethesda, canoe & kayak;
William L. Hearn, Bethesda, canoe & kayak; Steven Michael Jennings, Bethesda, field hockey, Eric Kratochvil, Bethesda, rowing; Brian Robert Parson, Bethesda, canoe & kayak; Brent Bowie Wiesel, Bethesda, canoe & kayak; David J. Briles Jr., Bowie, soccer; Ryan Fleetwood, Cambridge, baseball; Ryan Bahn, Chevy Chase, canoe & kayak; Blaise A. Rhodes, College Park, canoe & kayak; Sarah Rosenwinkle, College Park, field hockey;
Brian Masters, Columbia, table tennis; Hamisi K. Amani-Dove, Columbia, soccer; Matthew R. Holthaus, Columbia, Athletics; Clint Eastwood Peay, Columbia, soccer; Brian Christopher Barth, Cumberland, roller skating; Debra Pincence, Dracut, bowling; Will James, Easton, sailing; Pascale Stevens, Edgewater, water polo; Zach C. Thornton, Edgewood, soccer;
Eric Helms, Ellicott City, rowing; Derrick Christopher Delmore, Fort Washington, figure skating; Robert Bofinger, Frederick, canoe & kayak; Carlyn A. Schwarz, Gaithersburg, field hockey; Sean Dishman, Gaithersburg, boxing; Sean Michael Lonergan, Gaithersburg, table tennis; Kendra Le Cameron, Gambrills, bowling; Catherine Ann Hearn, Garrett Park, canoe & kayak; Paul Dulebohn, Germantown, figure skating; Tiombre J. Hurd, Greenbelt, Athletics;
Maxwell D. Skelley, Havre de Grace, Sailing; Rod L. Tolbert, Hyattsville, Athletics; Thori Yvette Staples, Joppatowne, soccer; Elgin G. Gordon, Landover, Athletics; Dorian Green, Landover, athletics; Pamela E. Hinkle, Laurel, judo; Andy Bair, Manchester, baseball; Margaret Mary Phillips, Millersville, water polo; Amy Brown, Monkton, canoe & kayak; John Dawson, New Market, canoe & kayak;
Johanna Shoemaker, North Potomac, gymnastics; Tricia A. Burdt, Olney, field hockey; Joseph C. Criscione, Perry Hall, canoe & kayak; Kira R. Orr, Poolesville, basketball; Vivian K. Lee, Potomac, table tennis; Laura Lin, Potomac, table tennis; Julie I. Lu, Potomac, table tennis; John Paul Norvell, Potomac, Swimming; Dina Maria Padula, Potomac, soccer; Jessica C. Shen, Potomac, table tennis;
Katherine E. Jeffress, Rockville, gymnastics; Todd Alan Sweeris, Rockville, table tennis; Anthony John Wood, Rockville, soccer; Kim Conway, Rockville Center, soccer; Erin Nicole Golaboski, Severna Park, water polo; Daniel D. Fowler, Silver Spring, racquetball; Zola Springer, Silver Spring, soccer; Andrew Orlando Valmon, Silver Spring, Athletics, Amy Jun Feng, Wheaton, table tennis.