Chicago Still In Olympics Hunt

Wed. July 26, 2006 12:00 AM by U.S. NewsWire

Denver, CO - The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) announced today that Chicago, along with Los Angeles and San Francisco will move forward to the next phase of the USOC’s 2016 Applicant City Evaluation Process. The cities of Houston and Philadelphia will not move forward in the process, which will determine if the USOC will or will not submit a bid city for the 2016 Games and, if so, which city will be selected as its international bidding partner.

The process of review for the five cities began in May 2006. USOC Chairman of the Board Peter Ueberroth led a delegation of USOC officials and advisors to the five cities as the initial step in the USOC’s Applicant City Evaluation Process. In addition to Chairman Ueberroth, the USOC delegation included International Olympic Committee (IOC) Member and USOC Vice President, International Bob Ctvrtlik, USOC Chief Executive Officer Jim Scherr, USOC Chief of International Relations Robert Fasulo, USOC Chief Communications Officer Darryl Seibel and USOC Strategic Advisor George Hirthler.

The delegation visited Chicago on May 10, where Mayor Daley assembled a 10-person delegation for a candid, two-hour discussion on the realities of the international bidding environment and the initial minimum requirements (non-starters) Chicago would have to meet in order to be considered as the possible U.S. bid city. In light of those realities and the minimum requirements set forth by Chairman Ueberroth, Chicago was given the opportunity to move forward or withdraw.

On May 24, the USOC issued a Request for Information (RFI) and initiated the second step in its process to evaluate the initial status, plans and qualifications of each prospective applicant city. The cities were given approximately one month to respond and were instructed to deliver their RFI response to the USOC International Office in Irvine, Calif., by end of day on June 21.

While not meant as an in-depth technical review, the RFI was designed to push the cities’ formal planning forward, to provide a series of assurances to the USOC that the cities were capable – even at this early stage – of meeting the USOC’s requirements against the series of non-starters and to outline the general plans envisioned for hosting the Games, providing a status check on existing venues and venues to be built.

On a parallel track, while the cities completed their responses to the RFI, the USOC’s International Relations team conducted a worldwide survey of IOC members (58), International Federation and National Olympic Committee leaders and other opinion leaders in the Olympic Movement (42). In brief but informative interviews, they sought and gained insights into which of the five cities had the best chances of competing effectively in the international arena, on the basis of their reputation and known qualities. Sources indicate Chicago scored very high in comparison to the other four cities.

The USOC then combined the results of the international survey with the results of a technical review of the RFI and established the relative merits of the five cities at this stage of the domestic process.

After being briefed by USOC leadership on the combined results of the technical report and the international survey, the USOC Board of Directors agreed with the recommendation to move forward with three cities. The five cities were notified of their status and the process moving forward one hour prior to the public announcement today.

The technical analysis, which was performed by four U.S.-based Olympic experts appointed by the USOC, focused on specific information that included categories such as the Olympic Stadium concept, the Olympic Village concept, governmental support, capital investment and Games legacy. The international survey helped establish the relative levels of recognition and interest in the five US cities within the international Olympic family.

“All five cities that have participated in this process are capable of one day hosting the Olympic Games,” said Ueberroth. “All five cities have outstanding leadership in both the public and private sectors and a demonstrated commitment to supporting the Olympic Movement, which we greatly appreciate. However, based on the technical report and the results of our international polling, we determined the appropriate next step for the USOC is to move forward with three cities.

“From the outset, we have said this process is about identifying the one U.S. city that has the best chance of being competitive in the international race. If we do not believe a U.S. city can be competitive, we will not bid,” Ueberroth concluded.

“Based upon the initial plans submitted by Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the potential for a very competitive, high-quality international bid exists in each city,” added Ctvrtlik. “All three offer the potential of a dramatic Olympic legacy that could produce a positive impact for the worldwide Olympic Movement for decades to come.

“However, having said that, as we move forward we will provide each of the cities with specific and, in some cases, significant recommendations to enhance and improve their plans to prepare them for the critical phase of international competition that might lie ahead.”

Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco will now move to the next phase of the USOC’s Applicant City Evaluation Process. The USOC will implement a process modeled on the two-phase process employed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in evaluating bid cities. The USOC process will have four key milestones:

1. The development of a bid city Domestic Questionnaire
2. The development of a limited set of Domestic Bid Books
3. A USOC Evaluation Commission and report
4. Final presentations by each of the cities to the USOC Board, with a final decision by the Board on which city, if any, to put forward. The presentation session would include final recommendations to the Board by the Evaluation Commission.

The USOC’s four-person technical team is comprised of:

Jerry Anderson - a senior partner at HOK Event & Sport, Anderson is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on venue operations, overlay and games plan design. He has worked on seven Olympic Games in capacities ranging from Managing Director of Venues in Salt Lake City 2002 to Director of Venues in Atlanta 1996. He has worked on six Olympic bids, most recently London 2012, as well as 25 NFL Super Bowls.

George Hirthler - the USOC volunteer strategic advisor has served as a lead positioning and communications strategist for eight international Olympic bids, including Atlanta 1996, Beijing 2008 and Vancouver 2010. He is currently engaged in the campaign of Salzburg 2014.

Sharon Kingman - directed the implementation of Atlanta 1996 telecommunications operations for BellSouth and went on to serve as the Managing Director of Telecommunications for Salt Lake City 2002. She has advised numerous Organizing Committees for the Olympic Games, Olympic bids, and sponsors and serves as an IOC Olympic Games Knowledge Services expert on telecommunications and broadcast operations. She is currently working with the Sochi 2014 bid team, as well as planning for the Vancouver 2010 and London 2012 Games.

Rick Ludwig - a member of the IOC’s 2010 Evaluation Commission team, Ludwig served as the senior financial planning executive for Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000. He has worked with several Organizing Committees for the Olympic Games, Olympic bids and the IOC’s Olympic Games Knowledge Services. He is the primary author of the IOC’s bid guidelines on building and justifying an OCOG budget for the Games.

The USOC Board will determine by the end of 2006 if the organization will move forward with an international bid for the 2016 Games. If the organization decides to move forward with an international bid, the USOC will select its applicant city by the end of March 2007.