Region's race for Olympics under way Schmoke, Barry meet on 2012 Games bid


The mayors of Baltimore and Washington are scheduled to start leading cheers this afternoon for a joint bid to attract the 2012 Summer Olympic Games to this region.

Paperwork formally replacing what last year were competing bids from the two cities was to be filed with the U.S. Olympic Committee by today.

Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Washington Mayor Marion Barry are scheduled to appear at a news conference in Annapolis this afternoon to talk about that bid, which both endorsed in letters to the USOC.

The two longtime rival urban areas are competing with eight other U.S. bids for the USOC's nomination under the name Washington/Baltimore Regional 2012 Coalition.

The name game is particularly sensitive to some in the smaller Baltimore metro area who say Washington interests overwhelm whatever Baltimoreans prefer, whether in sports or in other endeavors.

A USOC spokesman in Colorado Springs, Colo., said yesterday the 2012 Games will be awarded in the name of one place, even if, as is sometimes the case, others are involved in the bidding process.

"No matter what they're calling themselves now," said Mike Moran, "ultimately, the IOC will award the Games to only one city. That was made clear after the Nagano Games [the 1998 Winter Olympics]. If they insist on the joint name, they will just be hurting themselves."

Other than paperwork naming the new bidding entity, establishing its bylaws and identifying its directors, though, little is new about business interests in both metro areas underwriting a joint bid.

After Baltimore and Washington entered competing bids last year, an array of business leaders in both metropolitan areas decided that the pooling of efforts would result in a more formidable proposal.

They cited the new Ravens and Jack Kent Cooke stadiums in Maryland, Washington's new MCI Center and the region's extensive college facilities as major elements in being able to accommodate thousands of Olympic athletes and millions of fans.

In March, they pledged $6 million to make the bid, and the USOC agreed to extend until today the time limit for formalizing such a proposal.

Baltimore and Maryland interests, guided by Maryland Stadium Authority chairman John Moag, agreed to join the combined bidding effort. Those interests include Legg Mason Inc. and The Baltimore Sun.

Many corporate high-rollers in the Washington area, among them Mobil Corp. and The Washington Post, are backing a combined effort as well, as are others with substantial activity in both metro areas, including Giant Food and NationsBank, the latter a major backer of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Business umbrella groups in both areas, including the Greater Baltimore Committee, the Greater Baltimore Alliance, the Washington Trade Council and the Federal City Council, also endorse the joint bid.

One point -- whether the leader of what had been the Washington, D.C., bid to get the Games would join, or be welcome, in the combined effort, still seemed sticky late yesterday.

Representatives of the combined bid were said to be talking with Elizabeth Ganzi, owner of a big-event marketing business that has done work for Olympic teams in the past, about the debt her group has incurred and other issues. Sources familiar with the situation said the combined bid would be made with or without her. She had not replied by late yesterday to requests for comments.

Other U.S. cities competing for the 2012 Games are Arlington, Texas; Cincinnati, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and a combination of Tampa and Orlando, Fla.

After receiving detailed proposals, the USOC will narrow the American field to several finalists in March 2002 and nominate one candidate to the IOC that fall.

The IOC, after inspecting nominees from around the world, is scheduled to award the 2012 Games in the fall of 2005.

Pub Date: 6/30/98

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