Local committee wants to bring 2012 Olympics to Bay Area

By Paul Glader, Associated Press Writer
Monday April 15, 2002

UC Berkeley venues among facilities under consideration; supporters claim Games would bring about $7.4 billion, new housing and better public transportation to region 



SAN FRANCISCO – Anne Cribbs has no trouble convincing people that hosting the 2012 Olympic Games would be a good thing for the San Francisco Bay Area. 

The games would bring about $7.4 billion to the Bay Area, not to mention new housing, improved public transportation and global recognition and tourism. 

And a recent poll found that 84 percent of Bay Area residents support the quest. 

But getting people to believe it’s a likely possibility — after the Atlanta Games in 1996 and Salt Lake City winter games this year — is another matter for Cribbs, the chief executive officer of the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee, the nonprofit organizer of San Francisco’s bid. 

Cribbs, who won a gold medal as a 15-year-old swimmer in the 400-meter medley at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, compared an Olympic bid to competitions where outcomes are determined by performance and spirit. 

“It’s kind of like a race,” she said. “You need to stay in the race and do your best because you can’t predict what will happen.” 

Four finalists remain in the campaign to win the U.S. Olympic Committee’s nomination as the U.S. bid city: Washington, New York, Houston and San Francisco. The committee will visit the four bid cities this summer and make a decision Nov. 2. 

Local supporters will host a news conference Wednesday with several Olympic athletes, including sprinter Michael Johnson, to unveil a new logo and financial details of its campaign. 

The local committee’s small staff works out of a simple office in Palo Alto and has spent three years building bridges between leaders of Bay Area cities, businesses and athletes. 

The committee also boasts 115 people on its board including numerous past and present Olympians, including swimmer Matt Biondi, runner Billy Mills and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi. 

Board members say nearly 400 past and present Olympians live in the Bay Area. Venue planners have consulted athletes to find out exactly what kind of facilities athletes want. 

Last week, the committee released a 300-page addendum to its 700-page bid, showing that 92 percent of the competition sites will be within 32 miles of the proposed Olympic village at Moffett Field near Mountain View. 

Most of the nearly 50 Olympic events would take place in San Francisco, Berkeley, San Jose, Stanford, Oakland, Sacramento. Venues in Napa Valley, Monterey and Los Angeles also would host single events. 

Cribbs said 80 percent of the venues already exist, but would need to be refurbished. 

Although Washington and New York have better subway systems, local organizers said the planned expansions of Bay Area Rapid Transit lines to San Jose and to airports in Oakland and San Francisco will be in place by 2012. 

The group made a bid in 1987-1988 for the 1996 games, which eventually went to Atlanta. The Bay Area made it to the Olympic Committee’s final four that year but didn’t have widespread support, bid director Bob Stiles said. 

San Francisco also made a bid for the 1968 games that went to Mexico City. 

If San Francisco is chosen as the U.S. bid city, it would face competitors like Toronto, Rome and Paris in the next selection phase. The International Olympic Committee makes the next choice in 2005. 

Toronto could be a heavy favorite, since it narrowly missed being selected for the 2008 games, which will be held in Beijing. 

However, U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Mike Moran said it’s not out of the question for a U.S. city to land the games in 2012, especially given the stellar operations at Salt Lake City this year. 

“While Atlanta was a successful games, there was a worldwide perception that there was too much commercialism and other critiques involving technology and transportation,” Moran said. 

He described the Salt Lake City games as “flawless” and “impeccable” in operation, restoring a good reputation to the United States. 

With familiar icons like cable cars and the Golden Gate Bridge, local leaders believe the city’s charm is their greatest asset. 

“We are a place the world truly loves to visit,” Stiles said. “We are a world city. We are a Paris city of the United States and we are the most Asian city and diverse city in the United States.”