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Regional bid to host 2012 Olympics gets financial boost

Copyright © 1999 Nando Media
Copyright © 1999 Associated Press

WASHINGTON (July 11, 1999 12:10 a.m. EDT http://www.sportserver.com) - A bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics has received a major boost, with donations of more than $1 million in new corporate contributions. The pledges push efforts to raise $10 million by 2002 past the halfway mark.

The Washington-Baltimore Regional 2012 Coalition, which is working to pursue the Olympics, has gained $750,000 in pledges in the past month from Giant Food Inc., T. Rowe Price, The Rouse Co. and Marriott Corp., as well as nearly $500,000 in services such as office space and legal services.

The group, now with about $5.25 million in total contributions and pledges, will submit its formal bid to the U.S. Olympic Committee in December 2000. A single American winner will be selected in 2002 to participate in a worldwide competition to host the 2012 Olympics.

Seven other American cities, including Dallas, are seeking the 2012 Games.

In an unprecedented move, the coalition also said it would push to hold opening and closing ceremonies jointly on the Mall in Washington and at Baltimore's Inner Harbor rather than in a single amphitheater. The group also plans to make such ceremonies open to the public.

Dan Knise, president and chief executive of the Washington-Baltimore 2012 Coalition, said construction of new facilities, which has burndened many prior Olympics cities, will be kept at a minimum for a bid here. Thanks to several new facilities, such as Jack Kent Cooke Stadium and MCI Center, the focus will be on using those existing sites or building temporary modifications, he said.

"We really want to make this a games of the people, and with that our mantra is to build less and use more of what's already in place," Knise said.

He said the coalition has not yet formally approached the U.S. Park Service, which administers the Mall, about the ceremonies. He said the group intends to do so soon.

"The Summer Olympics opening ceremonies, going back to ancient Greece, have always been in an enclosed stadium," said John Lucas, an Olympic historian and retired Penn State professor. "This Washington idea is very provocative. With the IOC in such a state of flux, the time is right for some brave new thinking. But they should come up with a backup plan in case the USOC doesn't want to go through with it."