Olympic Committee chooses N.Y. bid over Bay Area

By Angela Watercutter
Monday November 04, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco lost its bid Saturday to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. Instead, New York City, the emotional favorite, will be the American candidate to sponsor the games. 

On a weighted scale of voting by the 123 members of the U.S. Olympic Committee board of directors, New York received 132 points out of possible total of 223. 

At San Francisco’s city hall, members of the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee, which organized the quest for the games, were joined by former Olympians and politicians to await the announcement. 

Moans and sighs filled the ornate rotunda the moment the bad news came. Many felt New York was selected to help ease the lingering pain of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. 

“Sympathy is a strong human emotion,” said committee member George Broder. “It clearly impacted the voters. How could it not?” 

New York will now compete internationally for the right to host the games — Toronto, Rome, Paris, Moscow and Rio de Janeiro could be among the competitors. The International Olympic Committee will choose the host city in 2005. 

USOC president Marty Mankamyer said the compact nature of New York’s bid was a prevailing factor in her decision. 

“Something that is still fresh in my mind from Sydney was trying to get to the venues with all the traffic,” she said. “So one of the biggest issues was the compactness of the bid.” 

“The wonderful thing about this region is that it transcends particular venues or particular events,” said city Supervisor Gavin Newsom. “You don’t need a Superbowl. You don’t need a World Series. We have so much going for us.” 

The Bay Area committee had driven San Francisco’s bid. It was created in the 1980s to bring events to the area and was later used to bid on the 1996 Summer Olympics. Although that bid was awarded to Atlanta, Bay Area officials worked over the next few years to land the World Figure Skating Championships and the World Cup. 

Broder said national committee members have suggested New York may automatically get the bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics if it’s not chosen to host the 2012 games. 

“It’s great to be one of the two finalist cities, but we obviously would have liked to be the candidate,” Anne Cribbs, BASOC president, said from Colorado Springs, Colo. “When you lose, and that’s what this is even though I said I didn’t come here to lose, you want to go back and reassess. I don’t know whether we’ll do that. What we’ll do is just say ’Hey, we put together a great team and we’re proud of the results,’ and move on.” 

Committee members put a lot of planning into the 2012 Summer Olympic games campaign. The vision included Olympic mountain biking in Napa vineyards, sailing events on San Francisco Bay and other sports held within a “Ring of Gold” connecting four sites — San Francisco, Oakland/Berkeley, Stanford and San Jose/Santa Clara. 

Bay Area backers noted that 80 percent of the sports facilities targeted for the 2012 Olympics, including 85,000-seat Stanford Stadium, already exist. That would have kept costs down, and bid officials proposed capital investment of just $211 million — extremely low by Olympic standards. 

The games would have had a projected $7.2 billion statewide fiscal impact. 

The bidders also promised a $409 million surplus for the USOC that would be used for the future development of Olympic sports in the United States. And, they argued, the low capital investment and the support of Silicon Valley corporations meant San Francisco could have avoided the crass commercialism that tainted the 1996 Atlanta Games. 

“I’m heartbroken,” said Jerome Reitenbach, a former Olympic tae kwon do official. “I can’t believe they made the decision to give it to New York because we just have everything here in our city. I think the Olympic Committee made a big mistake.” 

San Francisco would have become the third California site in Olympic history. Los Angeles has hosted the Summer Games twice and Squaw Valley has hosted the Winter Games.