Wednesday, July 18, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 154


Houston 2012 plans need larger track and field stage

Olympics 2012 -- in Houston?

Jamaal Ellis

The Summer Olympic Games -- every four years it's the center of the world's focus, and Houston wants it 3,970 days from now. Can the city handle it?

Well-thought are the plans for basketball, volleyball, baseball, field hockey, yachting and equestrian events -- which would be in existing or planned facilities -- and
for the Olympic Village, which would be constructed in the UH-Texas Southern-Interstate 45 triangle.

Decent ideas are in place for flat-water canoeing (the Texas City reservoir) and swimming and diving (a proposed natatorium near Reliant Park).

UH is even included in some of the good ideas, such as water polo in the future Wellness Center to be built at University Drive and Calhoun Road, and practice
facilities on campus for soccer, baseball, softball, volleyball, basketball, water polo, wrestling, fencing and weightlifting, among others.

The modern pentathlon is proposed for UH, but this is only a fair idea. Swimming, running and fencing are good for the Yeoman Field House, the Carl Lewis track
and the Wellness Center, but something about the riding events on the track and the shooting events inside the field house strike me as wrong.

What has not truly been addressed is soccer, track and field, and the opening and closing ceremonies.

On www.houston2012.or> -- the Web site for Houston's Olympic bid -- there are plans for opening and closing ceremonies to be held in Reliant Stadium and the
Astrodome (questionable at best), and soccer at Rice, Texas University, Texas A&M and in San Antonio.

Austin? College Station? San Antonio? This is Houston 2012; why are we going to send people three hours away to play a soccer game?

Rice would be a good site -- except it's turf. Why not Robertson Stadium? Plain and simple, it isn't big enough. People are hanging off the edges of the stadium for
Mexican league games. We're talking about putting the biggest soccer event behind the World Cup there? Simply not feasible.

For some reason, the site states plans to hold beach volleyball in Reliant Stadium, though it would be a nearly perfect site for soccer.

The proposed site for track and field is the Dome. Huh? Olympic track and field is not meant to be indoors.

There is no place in the Houston area big enough for Olympic track, and there is no way you'll be able to get the city of Houston's taxpayers to build yet another
stadium with two already in the works.

Houston has what it takes to beat out all the other proposed host cities, except possibly San Francisco and Dallas. But with a large enough stage for the Games
unavailable in Houston, and plans for a capable venue in the other cities, Houston, with all its ideas at hand, will be left without hope for the 2012 Olympics come
next fall.

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