Wednesday, July 18, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 154


 U.S. Olympic committee visits UH on Tuesday

By Ken Fountain
Daily Cougar Staff

Members of the U.S. Olympic Committee toured Robertson Stadium and the UH Athletic/Alumni Center on Tuesday as part of its four-day visit to Houston. The city's
civic leaders have launched a full-court press to have Houston chosen as the site of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

Houston is one of eight U.S. cities vying to be chosen by the USOC as the American city bidding for the Games. The others are New York; Los Angeles; Dallas;
Cincinnati; San Francisco; Tampa, Fla.; and Washington, D.C.

If Houston is ultimately selected, plans call for the area bound by Cullen Boulevard, Scott Street, Elgin Street and Interstate 45 to become the "Olympic Village,"
where the competitors would be housed. The UH athletic facilities would serve as practice facilities, and possibly hold the pentathlon, volleyball and equestrian
events, according to Associate Athletic Director Jeffrey Davis.

The members of the Site Evaluation Team, escorted by Chairman Susan Bandy and President George DeMontrand III of the Houston 2012 foundation, arrived from
Enron Field in two buses around 4:20 p.m., 20 minutes after their scheduled arrival time.

With the humid air and threatening storm clouds, the tour stopped only briefly at the newly refurbished Robertson Stadium before shuttling to the air-conditioned
comfort of the Athletic/Alumni Center.

The center, built in 1995 with a $29.1 million gift from UH benefactors John and Rebecca Moores, houses state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor fields, tennis courts, a
sports medicine center and a strength-and-conditioning center.

The USOC uses about 18 criteria areas when selecting a city, said Robert Condron, its director of media services. Among them are: competition venues, practice
sites, the Village site, transportation (everything from airports to taxi availability) and financing.

Condron, who has been with the committee for 18 years, said that one advantage in Houston's favor is the concentration of its venues, which are all located within
Loop 610.

He noted that Houston, and UH, was the site of the 1986 U.S. Olympic Festival, and that there have been many changes in the city and the campus since then.

"A lot of things are happening in this area that are good, Olympic-wise," Condron said.

Condron said that it was still too early to tell how Houston will stack up against the other seven cities.

"But as far as an overall bid on its own, it's excellent," he said.

Condron said that after the committee visits the last of the cities in August, it may begin paring down the list sometime between October and April 2002. The final
selection will be made in the fall of 2002.

"And then for three years we'll campaign internationally" before the International Olympic Committee makes the final selection in 2005, he said.

Condron added that, following last week's selection by the IOC of Beijing, China, for the 2008 Olympics, a U.S. city stands a good chance for the next selection.

"The Games basically need to come back on a regular basis. Most of the money for the (Olympic) movement, or a lot of it anyway, is from the United States," he said.

He noted that Atlanta held the 1996 Summer Olympics, and the 2002 Winter Games will be held in Salt Lake City. "So 2012 isn't out of reach. There'll be a lot of
cities bidding for it, but we feel we've got eight of them that can hold up to anybody in the world."

One of the city leaders accompanying the group was City Councilman Mark Greenberg. Asked how the visit was going, he said, "It's been great; everything's been
going smoothly. It seems like, for the most part, the committee members are pretty excited and enthused about what we have to offer. You can see it in their
questions. It's going very well."

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