No 2024 Olympics for Philadelphia
By Claudia Vargas
A year after enthusiastically announcing that Philadelphia was throwing in its hat to seek the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, Mayor Nutter has pulled that hat back.
Citing concerns about cost and the logistics of hosting other large events here in the near future, Nutter said the timing was just not right.
"The time, the effort, the fund-raising, the prospect of creating new venues . . . it is a tremendous, costly endeavor," Nutter said Wednesday. "We decided that, at this time, we would not put in or submit a bid."
The mayor notified the U.S. Olympic Committee earlier this month of the city's decision not to pursue a bid to host the 2024 summer games.
In his initial letter to the committee last year, Nutter stated his "wholehearted commitment and interest in working with the USOC to bid on the 2024 Games." But after numerous discussions and a meeting in April with the committee's chief executive officer, Scott Blackmun, Nutter said he had a change of heart.
"After consultation with local civic and private sector partners, including those who joined us at the meeting, our team believes Philadelphia's efforts are best spent bidding on and hosting other events at this time," he said in his letter.
The city will be hosting the 2015 World Meeting of Families -- that's the Catholic event that local leaders are hoping Pope Francis will attend -- and is also bidding to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Both require extensive fund-raising, to say nothing of security and planning.
Even the cost of preparing an Olympics proposal can run in the millions and hardly guarantees a win. The USOC chose New York City as the nation's nominee for the 2012 summer games, but London snagged the prize. In 2006, Philadelphia was among five U.S. cities that sought to host the 2016 games -- but those games were eventually awarded to Rio de Janeiro.
New York also announced this week that it would not seek to host the 2024 Olympics.
"It's a huge endeavor and one I think people are being understandably prudent with," said Larry Needle, executive director of the Philadelphia Sports Congress. The group, which is under the banner of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, seeks to attract major sporting events and conventions on behalf of the city.
Needle, who supported Nutter's decision, said that, unlike other countries, the U.S. government does not provide major funding for Olympic Games. The cost is left mostly to the host city. London spent an estimated $15 billion on the 2012 Games.
When Nutter was in London in November, he toured sites of the 2012 summer games. On Wednesday, he rattled off the things London had to do to accommodate those games, such as building an Olympic Village and new sporting facilities.
Nutter said the ultimate cost was "probably in the hundreds of millions of dollars."
His news release quoted Comcast executive David L. Cohen as saying Cohen and others who advised the mayor on the issue agreed that the timing was wrong -- but held out the hope of "Philadelphia one day bidding on and securing the Olympics."
(c)2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer
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