Thousands of athletes congregating at an Olympic village, built in place of what is now a methadone clinic and decaying homeless shelter in the District.
Swimmers racing through the pool at a newly constructed Arlington aquatics center.
Badminton and table tennis players battling it out in convention space at National Harbor in Prince George’s County.
Organizers of Washington’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games have quietly begun advancing their vision for how and where they would put on the 28 events of the games, mapping out where new facilities might be needed and which combination of the existing professional sports venues, college arenas, convention centers and concert halls might best entice members of the U.S. Olympic Committee to give the region the nod.
The team of executives behind the effort, led by investment banker Russ Ramsey and Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, is long on organization and enthusiasm. They’ve raised $5 million, opened an office in Foggy Bottom and begun marketing their bid with a new logo affixed to T-shirts, sunglasses and a Twitter account.
Last week, they took members of the U.S. Olympic Committee on helicopter rides over the Mall and the Anacostia River to show off the city.
The organizers have given few details about what would be asked of the region in terms of public funding and land. But a half-dozen people with direct knowledge of the plans say organizers have come up with an increasingly detailed proposal on where they could build new venues and utilize existing ones.
Much of the plans could change as Washington competes for the Games, with a decision on America’s preferred city expected from the USOC in January and a final decision on the winning city from the International Olympic Committee expected in 2017. Washington, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco are the U.S. finalists.
Although the site of RFK Stadium is considered a preferred location to build an Olympic Stadium, the Washington 2024 organizers are considering two other locations as backups: Poplar Point, 110 acres of undeveloped riverfront land along the Anacostia River, and even FedEx Field, the Redskins’ home in Landover.
“We want to make sure that for nearly every event we have multiple options,” said one person with knowledge of the bid who asked not to be named because the plans are still considered preliminary.
A central goal of the organizers’ plans is to align the proposed facilities with the region’s own expected evolution over the next decade, an important consideration for Olympic officials. Any newly constructed venues or infrastructure ought to have a designated permanent use, lest they be left as “white elephants” once the 17-day Games end, as they have in Beijing, Sochi and elsewhere.
Organizers envision needing an operations budget of between $4 billion and $5 billion, similar to the 2012 Games in London, according to two people familiar with their plans. The budget for the London Olympics, including operations as well as new facilities, infrastructure and transportation improvements, neared $20 billion.
Penny Lee, a spokeswoman for Washington 2024, acknowledged that the group was exploring potential venues and said it would make those plans public in plenty of time for them to be vetted.
“Before any plan is final, we will engage in conversations with the USOC and athletes, and every capital region community who might be impacted, and to make a decision together based on how each particular neighborhood can best benefit from the Games,” she said in a statement. “We will ensure that the Olympic bid process be used as a way to invigorate our communities and local sports leaders to further develop a sports and education legacy for our children that will live long after the bid.”
The most recent plan bears some similarities to Washington’s bid for the 2012 Olympics. But the strategy of including locations from Richmond to Baltimore has largely been tossed.
Most of the venues being considered are inside or near the Capital Beltway. More priority is given to locations near Metro stations. And, if as proposed, there are events held at Hains Point and a redeveloped Southwest Waterfront, for example, spectators may be able to walk between events.
“Our Games are incredibly compact. It’s one of our driving forces: to create one of the most compact Games in Olympic history,” said one person familiar with the organizers’ plans. “I think this can be a really walkable Games.”
The 2012 London Games are considered a model in part because they are credited with rejuvenating the economy in the city’s East End. Ramsey and Leonsis have repeatedly said they want the Games to benefit neighborhoods along the Anacostia River, particularly in Wards 7 and 8, which have some of the region’s highest poverty rates.
To that end, organizers have proposed an Olympic Village at Hill East, 67 acres south of RFK that is home to a D.C. General homeless shelter. Housing built there for athletes could then help alleviate the city’s affordable housing shortage.
A new tennis facility is envisioned east of the Anacostia River. And multiple events — such as gymnastics, weightlifting and badminton — could take place in Prince George’s, particularly at the Gaylord National Convention Center.
Local officials have begun voicing general support for the effort, although they have not yet been asked to provide anything more.
The board of directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments endorsed the effort this month, and D.C. Mayor-elect Muriel E. Bowser enthusiastically supported the idea last week in one of her first speeches since the election. She and members of the D.C. Council met with USOC officials during their tour on Wednesday.
Jay Fisette, chairman of the Arlington County Board, said he had begun discussing how an aquatics center planned for Long Bridge Park could be redesigned to accommodate viewing stands that would allow it to serve as an Olympic natatorium. He said it was too early to tell if that was something the public would support.
“What we had designed was specifically for the needs and purposes that the community had designated. The needs of an Olympic facility are significantly different,” he said.
Thomas Heath contributed to this report.