Support for 2012 Games not squelched by scandal; Enthusiasm is high for D.C.-Baltimore bid, says coalition chief; Olympics


Although organizers trying to bring the 2012 Summer Games to the region won't reveal all the companies pledging support, they do say that the Olympics bribery scandal has not squelched local enthusiasm.

Just over a week ago, Dan Knise, president and chief executive officer of the Washington-Baltimore Regional 2012 Coalition, said he visited a major local corporation and was asked: "Where do we sign?"

Knise spoke yesterday at a breakfast meeting of the Greater Baltimore Alliance board of directors -- the day after the International Olympic Committee recommended the expulsion of six of its members. Three members already have resigned in a corruption scandal involving cash, scholarships and favors tied to Salt Lake City's winning of the 2002 Winter Games.

"Everyone has a question about what's gone on in Lausanne [Switzerland] and Salt Lake, but after that initial question, there's this continuing support of the Washington-Baltimore bid," Knise said. "This is a temporary bump in the road. I think what the Olympics stand for is greater than any one crisis."

At the meeting attended by about 75 area business leaders, Olympics organizers outlined their strategic plan, at the same time distancing themselves from the scandal that has ravaged the Olympics movement in recent months.

"We believe that what has happened in Salt Lake is very regrettable and unfortunate," said John Morton III, president of NationsBank's Mid-Atlantic Banking Group and volunteer chairman of the Washington-Baltimore Regional 2012 Coalition. "It's taken away the focus from the athletes and put it on the process. But we believe we'll have a stronger process when it's through. We believe the core values will not be tarnished."

The Washington-Baltimore group has about 14 months to put together an approximately 550-page bid for the 2012 Summer Games, which is due March 31, 2000. The region's seven competitors include San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Cincinnati, New York, Tampa-Orlando, Fla., and Los Angeles.

The U.S. Olympic Committee is expected to announce its choice of a candidate city in fall 2002. The winner will face international competition, with the IOC picking the site for the 2012 Games in 2005.

Putting together a bid proposal is the Washington-Baltimore group's top priority in coming months. Consultants are expected to be named within the next few weeks, Knise said. The budget for the first year of consulting work is estimated at between $800,000 and $1 million, Knise said.

Also part of the strategic plan are: building a foundation of government support, fund-raising, holding pre-Olympics events and getting the community involved in Games planning.

Olympics planners have $5 million in pledges and need to raise another $5 million. Organizers are on schedule or early in gathering $1.1 million of that in cash, Knise said. An additional $350,000 has been donated through in-kind contributions.

The local coalition hopes the region can play host to four or five pre-Olympic events a year.

The region will entertain World Cup swimming and track and field this year. Organizers are trying to secure a national archery competition and to win the 1999 National Coaching Recognition Program over at least two other competing cities.

"We're going to stay focused on building a bid that can win and that the citizens will be proud of," Morton said. "At the end of the day, we want to create a pride in the people who live here to showcase the region to the world. We can't take the risk of fluffing up the bid. To win, you have to be able to deliver."

Pub Date: 1/26/99

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