Seattle Chases Olympics in 2012

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Bidding for the Olympics can be a decades-long experience, as Dave Syferd is keenly aware. Mr. Syferd is the president of a group called the Seattle Bid Committee which would like to bring the Games to the Pacific Northwest.

"When we first got started three years ago," he says while sitting in the lobby of a downtown Seattle hotel, "we explored the possibilities for 2004, but immediately learned that that wasn't realistic. That didn't bother us because we knew this was a long-haul proposition."

Just how long is hard to say. 2008, however, is also out of the question. Last May, the United States Olympic Committee voted not to select a US candidate city for that opening. The consensus was that 2008 was too soon after the '96 Atlanta Olympics and the upcoming 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games for an American city to receive serious consideration.

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Besides Seattle, other US cities that had formally threw their hats in the ring were Baltimore, Cincinnati, Houston, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Initially, Syferd says, the Seattle group wanted to mount a multinational bid between the US and Canada that would have "recognized the similarities between Seattle and Vancouver."

Olympic rules, however, prevented it. Still, Syferd talks about the possibility of taking a regional approach, much as Atlanta did.

Seattle certainly doesn't lack for facilities, with new baseball and football stadiums in the works and the possibility of an upgrade to the University of Washington's Husky Stadium, centerpiece of the 1990 Goodwill Games. Syferd also points to the city's spectacular mid-summer weather, its international orientation, its equidistance from Europe and Asia, and a commitment to major infrastructure improvements.

"Seattle is the kind of community that would be totally enthralled with the Olympic Games," Syferd says.

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