Washington’s Olympics bid gets big business backing

 


(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Three months before the U.S. Olympic Committee is expected to choose among four American cities for its preferred choice to host the 2024 Summer Games, the exploratory committee pursuing the games for Washington held a coming out party for itself.

The committee launched a Web site Thursday with the tagline “fostering greater unity” and Twitter campaign Wednesday with the hashtag #unity.

Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Wizards and Capitals and vice chairman of the exploratory committee, put the campaign up in lights outside the Verizon Center.

More importantly, the once largely clandestine operation unveiled a 17-member board of directors demonstrating that big business in Washington has lined up squarely behind the effort. The group includes executives in sports, tech, real estate, law, restaurants, philanthropy and other areas. Here are the names:

  • Rosie Allen-Herring, president and chief executive of United Way of the National Capital Area
  • José Andrés, chef and owner of ThinkFoodGroup
  • Neil Cohen, president and chief executive of District Photo
  • Mark Ein, founder and chief exective of Venturehouse Group and owner of the Washington Kastles tennis team
  • Robert G. Hisaoka, president of RRR, LLC and chairman of Carsquare
  • Jim Hudson, former U.S. representative to the European Reconstruction and Redevelopment Bank
  • Sheila Johnson, managing partner of the Washington Mystics
  • Jeong H. Kim, chairman of Kiswe, Inc., producer of sports smart phone apps
  • Mark D. Lerner, principal owner and vice chairman of the Washington Nationals and a principal at Lerner Enterprises
  • Kevin Plank, chief executive and founder of Under Armour
  • Anthony T. Pierce, partner in charge, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
  • Linda Rabbitt, founder, chairman and CEO of Rand construction
  • Joseph Rigby, president and chief executive of Pepco
  • Denise Rolark-Barnes, publisher of the Washington Informer newspaper
  • Paul Tagliabue, former commissioner of the National Football League
  • Mark Weinberger, global chairman and chief executive of EY, a consulting firm
  • Anthony Williams, former District mayor and president of the Federal City Council

Along with Leonsis, the list includes ownership from most of the region’s professional teams, with the exception of the Redskins and D.C. United, which are both in the midst of their own public campaigns, with Dan Synder defending his team’s name and both teams seeking new stadiums.

Leonsis posted an update on his blog Thursday touting the group “as an an incredibly devoted board that consists of local business and civic leaders, all of whom are energized about the thought of the Olympics coming to the DMV. “

Even though Washington still has a long way to go to win the bid, there are already no shortage of skeptics about whether the city should be pursuing the games at all given the associated costs. Economists don’t think much of the idea, because they say it does little for the local economy.

A more thorough public vetting idea has yet to be had, but the business community has already considered the idea and appears to like it.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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Jonathan O'Connell · September 3