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
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
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
"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."