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2012 Olympics? In Berkeley? Bay Area committee lobbies to hold events in Berkeley venues

By David Scharfenberg Daily Planet staff
Friday April 19, 2002

If you like volleyball, you may be in luck. 

The latest proposal from the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee, which is attempting to bring the 2012 Summer Olympics to the region, places indoor volleyball preliminaries and finals, beach volleyball finals and preliminary soccer matches on the UC Berkeley campus. 

But don’t get too excited. Berkeley city officials say they are concerned about the potential traffic impacts of the Games. And BASOC has a long way to go before it brings the Olympics home.  

The Bay Area is vying with three U.S. cities – New York, Washington D.C. and Houston, Texas – to serve as the U.S. representative in the global competition for the Games. 

If the United States Olympic Committee selects the Bay Area in November, after a final site visit in July, BASOC will face off against international rivals like Toronto, Rome and Paris. The International Olympic Committee will make the final choice in 2005. 



See GAMES/Page 22 




The latest Berkeley proposals emerged this month when BASOC, after consulting with the U.S. Olympic Committee, submitted a 300-page addendum to its initial bid. 

The original plan placed preliminary soccer matches, early-round basketball games and the handball finals at UC Berkeley. 

According to BASOC Communications Director Tony Winnicker, the organization changed its plans after the U.S. Olympic Committee, during an August 2001 visit, requested greater use of the campus. 

“They loved Berkeley,” said Winnicker. “They frankly thought we underused the facilities.” 

Winnicker argued that the indoor and outdoor volleyball finals will attract greater attention than the basketball preliminaries, shifted to Santa Clara University, and the handball finals, moved to Oakland Coliseum. 

In addition to Berkeley, Oakland and Santa Clara, Olympic events would take place in San Francisco, San Jose and Palo Alto, among other sites. 

BASOC pulled several events from Sacramento earlier this month and shifted them to the immediate Bay Area to accomodate a U.S. Olympic Committee request that the events be tightly grouped together.  

According to the addendum, 92 percent of the sites will now be within 32 miles of the proposed Olympic village near Mountain View. 

Berkeley elected officials are excited about the prospect of hosting the Olympics, citing the prestige and economic boost the Games would bring to the city. But they are worried about traffic and congestion. 

“Obviously the big question is traffic and can that be handled,” said Mayor Shirley Dean.  

BASOC officials say the Bay Area, notorious for traffic jams, will be able to handle the Olympics. 

“We have the transit, we have a great system, and it will work,” said Robert Stiles, BASOC bid director, at a Wednesday press conference. 

In a recent simulation, Stiles said, the organization matched the busiest day of the Olympics against the Bay Area’s public transit system and found the only required addition would be a new bus service from San Francisco to Stanford. 

BASOC officials say they would also make heavy use of park and ride arrangements, ban private parking at venues – ask for community cooperation in altering work schedules and developing temporary telecommute options – and pay for extra public transit.  

According to Winnicker, the BASOC plan depends upon certain transportation projects already slated for completion by 2012, including BART extensions to San Jose and to the Oakland and San Francisco airports. 

But he added that the Olympics have traditionally served as powerful leverage with state and federal governments to speed up other projects. Winnicker cited the reactivation of the Dumbarton rail bridge and the extension of BART to Fremont as East Bay projects that could benefit. 

BASOC officials expect to generate a $409 million surplus from the Olympics, in large part because 80 percent of the facilities required for the Games are already in place, reducing upfront costs.  

After the U.S. Olympic Committee and International Olympic Committee take their cuts, BASOC will spend $170 million to fund training for aspiring Olympians and Paralympians, Winnicker said. The Paralympics is for the disabled. 

The organization also plans to spend $100 million on local youth sports, arts and environmental projects. 

“A lot of the profits from the Olympics will be left as a legacy for the kids,” said Katrina Radke, a UC Berkeley graduate and swimmer in the 1988 Olympic Games who works with BASOC. 

Winnicker added that BASOC would likely pay to upgrade the UC Berkeley athletic facilities involved in the Games. Current plans call for use of Edwards Stadium, Haas Pavilion, Memorial Stadium and the Recreation Sports Facility.