Olympic Committee Reaches Out To Memphis

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(Memphis) If you’re going to dream, why not dream big?

That’s what some city leaders in Memphis are doing today.

Memphis is one of 35 cities asked to submit bids to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.

The city admits that is a lofty goal but it’s one that could put Memphis on the world-wide stage.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton received a letter from the U.S. Olympic Committee asking him to submit a bid.

News Channel 3 asked Memphis Convention and Visitors director, Kevin Kane if it was feasible Memphis could host such an event, “Probably not but could it be feasible 15, 20 years from now. Who knows? I don’t think 30 years ago Atlanta ever thought they would host the Olympics.”

Kane says it’s a compliment to be asked to submit a bid.

He also admits it’s a lofty goal.

Hosting would mean an operating budget of more than $3 billion dollars, plus the cost of new construction.

An Olympic city must have at least 45,000 hotel rooms.

Memphis has about half that.

The Olympic Village must be large enough for 16,000 athletes and feed 5,000 at a time. The airport must handle thousands of international travelers a day.

Public Transportation would need an upgrade and the Liberty Bowl just wouldn’t do.

The Liberty Bowl holds 61,000 people but Centennial stadium in Atlanta built for the 1996 Olympics was built to hold 85,000. It took 3 years to build and cost $ 207 million.

Atlanta paid the price but Kane says the return was worth it.

“Put them on the global stage as probably the capital of the south. They look back now 15 years later the Olympics have a lot to do with that,” said Kane.

Perhaps the biggest bang for a host city is the 200,000 jobs it would bring.

Laughing Kane said, “A workforce of over 200 thousand people!  We’d have zero unemployment in Memphis, if we were to host this thing. So wouldn’t that be great! In fact, the state of Tennessee would have zero unemployment!”

Cities receiving the letter from the U.S.O.C. were Phoenix; San Jose, Calif.; Los Angeles; Sacramento; San Diego; San Francisco; Denver; Washington; Jacksonville, Fla.; Orlando, Fla.; Miami; Atlanta; Chicago; Indianapolis; Baltimore; Detroit; Minneapolis; St. Louis; Las Vegas; New York; Boston; Rochester; Charlotte, N.C.; Columbus, Ohio; Tulsa, Okla.; Portland, Ore.; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Memphis; Nashville and Davidson County; Austin, Tex.; Dallas; Houston; San Antonio; and Seattle.

Here is the letter from the U.S.O.C.:

Honorable A.C. Wharton, Jr. Mayor, City of Memphis City Hall 125 N. Main St. Room 700
Memphis, TN 38103
via email: Mayor@memphistn.gov
Dear Mayor Wharton, Jr.,

As you may know, the United States Olympic Committee is currently considering a bid for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. As we explore this exciting possibility, we are actively seeking to gauge the interest of U.S. cities that may have the ability to host an event with the scope and scale of the Olympic Games. To that end, we are reaching out to cities that have previously expressed an interest in bidding as well as the cities in the largest 25 U.S. markets.

As you saw in London, the Olympic and Paralympic Games bring people together in a magnificent celebration of sport and the human spirit, unifying disparate cultures and beliefs around a shared set of values. For 29 magical days, differences are forgotten and human achievement becomes the theme. Win or lose, joy springs from the effort to be the very best we can be, and sport makes the world a better place. Now more than ever, we need to use the power of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to encourage our youth to be active and engaged in sport.

Based on expected International Olympic Committee deadlines, we have 2+ years to decide whether we want to submit a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. We would like to begin having discussions with interested cities about possible bid themes as well as the infrastructure, financial resources and other assets that are required to host the Games. Our objective in this process is to identify a partner city that can work with us to present a compelling bid to the IOC and that has the right alignment of political, business and community leadership. We are seeking a partner that understands the value of the Olympic Games and the legacy that can be created not only for their community, but for our country.

The staging of the Games is an extraordinary undertaking for any city, with operating budgets in excess of $3 billion, not including costs associated with venue construction and other infrastructure. Among the many requirements are:

• 45,000 hotel rooms.
• An Olympic Village that sleeps 16,500 and has a 5000-person dining hall.
• Operations space for over 15,000 media and broadcasters.
• An international airport that can handle thousands of international travelers per day.
• Public transportation service to venues.
• Roadway closures to allow exclusive use for Games-related transportation.
• A workforce of up to 200,000.

While the Games require a formidable commitment, they also provide an unparalleled opportunity for a city to evolve and grow. The Games have had a transformative impact on a number of host cities, including Barcelona, Beijing and London. They enable the creation and implementation of a new vision and provide a powerful rallying point for progress.
As you likely know, the U.S. submitted bids to host the 2012 (New York) and 2016 (Chicago) Olympic Games. Both New York and Chicago had to participate in a domestic bid process that cost upwards of $10 million before they were designated by the USOC as an IOC Applicant City. Moving forward, we are going to select our Applicant City through a thoughtful but more efficient process.

The first step in that process is to have discussions with interested cities. If you have an interest in learning more about a 2024 Olympic and Paralympic bid, please have an authorized representative contact Chris Sullivan, USOC Chief of Bids and Protocol, at chris.sullivan@usoc.org. Chris can supply additional information and will begin an effort to assess the viability of a bid from Memphis. Your representative does not necessarily need to be affiliated with your city government.

Whether or not we decide to submit a 2024 bid, we are grateful for your support of the Olympic and Paralympic Movements. Please feel free to call me at any time.

Scott A. Blackmun
Chief Executive Officer