Area Officials May Look to 2016

Britons Celebrate in Trafalgar Square
The crowd in London's Trafalgar Square reacts to Wednesday's announcement by the IOC. (AP)
By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 7, 2005

Dan Knise, who led Washington-Baltimore's unsuccessful attempt to bid for the 2012 Olympics, met with more than a half-dozen of his former partners at a downtown District restaurant yesterday for what was intended to be a purely social lunch to chat about the selection of London to host the 2012 Games earlier in the morning.

The outing, however, morphed into something closer to a business meeting as the group pondered making a pitch for the 2016 Games. Just hours after New York met with a resounding defeat -- eliminated in the second round of voting by the International Olympic Committee in Singapore -- the U.S. Olympic Committee surprisingly announced it would soon open a new bidding process to determine its candidate for the 2016 Olympics by the end of next year.

New York officials have not said whether they will bid again. In any case, the USOC said, New York would have no advantage.

The dissolved but still-connected D.C.-Baltimore group, which three years ago finished behind New York and San Francisco after three years of campaigning, spent nearly two hours discussing the possibility of resuscitating the bid, Knise said.

"We're interested," Knise said. "The key is we have more to find out [from the USOC] and clearly more bases to touch within the community. . . . So far, the feedback I've gotten about this from a variety of sources is positive: Let's give this a try."

Washington Mayor Anthony Williams said yesterday, "If New York were no longer the U.S. city, then of course, I think we should renew our bid."

Knise said the Greater Washington Sports Alliance, a nonprofit group he helped found, would sponsor the bid if it were to go forward. He said officials at the luncheon agreed the region could put together a more compelling bid than the previous one given recent developments in the local sports landscape, such as planned stadiums for D.C. United and the Washington Nationals to be built along the Anacostia waterfront.

"We've got a better situation than we probably did three years ago," said Knise, who was joined yesterday by former D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission president Bobby Goldwater, former bid team communications director Kelley Mullaney, Maryland Sports Corp. head Barbara Bozzuto and others. "The harder part is figuring out what the USOC process is going to be and what's the lay of the land."

USOC Chairman Peter Ueberroth and CEO Jim Scherr said the 11-member USOC board would meet in the coming weeks to devise the terms of a selection process designed to move far more quickly than the one that whittled New York from a field of eight candidates.

"We'd have to have it solid, done, announced and moving forward certainly in the calendar of '06," Ueberroth said by phone from Singapore.

The USOC's quick shift from New York's failed bid to an almost eager announcement of an open selection process that gives New York no right-of-first-refusal caught Knise and other Olympic officials off-guard. The readiness to move forward with or without New York suggests either that USOC officials don't expect New York to bid again for 2016 or that they were frustrated by certain elements of New York's plan and would welcome a different approach.

New York's bid was undermined just a month ago when a state board failed to approve funding for the bid's central component, an Olympic stadium on the west side of Manhattan.

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