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Terrorism, stadium among USOC's concerns in S.F.

8/10/2006

SAN FRANCISCO -- A team representing the U.S. Olympic
Committee scrutinized San Francisco's proposal for hosting the 2016
Summer Games on Thursday, questioning whether the city has
appropriate venues for track and field events and the opening and
closing ceremonies, among other issues.

Although the San Francisco 49ers last month unveiled a plan for
a new stadium at Candlestick Point that would have enough seats to
host a major event such as the Olympics, Mayor Gavin Newsom said
the USOC representatives expressed concern whether the facility and
other sites in the city's bid would be finished in time.

"Eighty-three percent is not 100 percent of venues already
completed," he said, adding that the city would provide
alternative options to the still-to-be built 49ers stadium when it
submits an updated proposal to the USOC next month. "There is a
growing feeling that NFL stadiums are not the best opening and
closing venues."

The USOC team -- composed of Bob Ctvrtlik, the committee's vice
president for international relations, and two technical consultants
-- offered a similar critique on Wednesday when it visited
Chicago, another of the three finalists vying to be America's entry
in the international competition to host the 2016 Olympics.

Chicago officials have floated the idea of using both the
61,500-seat Soldier Field and a nearby temporary stadium for the
opening and closing ceremonies. The USOC team is scheduled to meet
with officials in Los Angeles, which hosted the 1984 Olympics, on
Friday.

Ctvrtlik would not provide specifics of his meeting with Newsom
and other backers of the city's bid, saying only the detailed
feedback he and the consultants provided was designed "to help
them craft a bid that maximizes their strengths and to minimize
some of the shortcomings."

"We were not in the business of coming to flatter the cities.
That is not in their, nor the US Olympic Committee or our country's
best interest," he said. "It was a very concrete, open
discussion, and we were critical in many areas. But the criticism
was aimed, as it was in Chicago and as it will be in Los Angeles,
at strengthening these bids."

Newsom said that if he and the group working on San Francisco's
bid decide they can't realistically meet the USOC's expectations in
terms of time and infrastructure, he would take the city out of the
running before the committee picks a finalist, a decision expected
by March.

"Either the city can or cannot perform," he said. "We want to
make sure they have confidence in us and we have confidence in the
process, ... whether we can deliver on their expectations. And
there is a chance we might not be able to do that."

Besides the stadium issue, USOC members questioned the adequacy
of the Bay Area's transportation system and whether the Golden Gate
Bridge and other significant landmarks made the region especially
susceptible to a terrorist attack, Newsom said.

Scott Givens, managing director of the committee overseeing San
Francisco's bid to host the 2016 games, said that after sitting
through the three-hour meeting he was "supremely confident we can
answer the questions of the USOC and present a very good case for
the San Francisco Bay area."

"What's nice about the Bay Area is there are so many great
venues, it's real easy for us to take that feedback and modify our
plan," Givens said.

The International Olympic Committee is expected to choose a site
for the 2016 Games in 2009.

Observers have said this is the United States' best shot at
landing the Olympics in years. The country last hosted a Summer
Games in 1996 in Atlanta.