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City could share in Olympic gold

March 14, 2001

City could share in Olympic gold



By JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown will not be an athletic venue for the 2012 Summer Olympics, but the city could play an important role if the Baltimore-Washington corridor wins the bid to host the event, an organizer told business leaders Wednesday morning.

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The Hagerstown area could be a "staging area" for Olympic spectators, who might occupy some of Washington County's approximately 2,100 hotel rooms and take buses to athletic venues, said Dan Knise, president and chief executive officer of the Washington/Baltimore Regional 2012 Coalition.

Olympic spectators could find lower-priced lodging within a reasonable distance here as an alternative to more expensive hotel rooms in the Baltimore and Washington areas, said Fred Teeter, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

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The coalition submitted a bid on Dec. 15 to host the 2012 Summer Olympics, Knise said. The U.S. Olympic Committee is expected to select finalist cities by April 2002 and choose the nation's candidate city in October 2002.

Other U.S. cities under consideration are New York, Los Angeles, Tampa, Dallas, Houston, San Francisco and Cincinnati.

Olympic Committee officials are expected to visit the proposed athletic sites between July and October, Knise said. While they aren't expected to visit beyond the athletic venues, it's important for the region to show its support, he said.

"It really is a lot about buzz," Knise told about 25 local business leaders at the breakfast event hosted by the chamber at the Plaza Hotel.

The Hagerstown area also can help by making sure government leaders support the coalition's efforts and by helping to raise the remaining $1.1 million needed for the coalition to meet its $9.5 million goal, Knise said. The money finances the coalition's bid process through 2002.

Another way Hagerstown could be involved would be to encourage athletes from another country to stay in the local area in the weeks leading up to the Olympics.

Since Hagerstown's Sister City is Wesel, Germany, the city could invite the German team here, Knise said.

Olympic athletes frequently stay in the host country for about a month prior to the games to get acclimated to the weather, Knise said. They usually stay in hotels or dormitories.

Local high schools could upgrade their fields so the athletes could train here, Knise said.

The closest athletic venue in the coalition's proposal would be Harry Grove Stadium in Frederick, Md., which could host baseball along with Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, according to the coalition's proposal. Garrett County, Md., would host the slalom canoeing at a proposed man-made whitewater course.

Other proposed athletic venues include the Baltimore Arena (gymnastics), the MCI Center (basketball), George Mason University in Virginia (aquatics and badminton), and the U.S. Naval Academy (beach volleyball, fencing, modern pentathlon and yachting).

There's no guarantee the Olympics will be held in the United States in 2012.

The favored site for the 2008 Olympics appears to be Beijing, China, which would work in the United States' favor to host 2012's games, Knise said.

If Beijing is chosen for 2008, it is more likely the games could return to the United States in 2012, he said.

Other cities in contention for the 2008 games are Paris and Toronto. If Toronto is chosen, it could work against the games returning here in 2012, Knise said.

The International Olympic Committee will choose the host city for 2012 in the fall of 2005.

This morning's Eggs & Issues program was sponsored by Mid Atlantic System Integrators Inc., formerly known as Hesse & Associates.

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