Hayli Goode/BSU at the Games
The United States Olympic Committee told the media it has not yet decided if it will bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games.
The city of Atlanta plans to tear down Turner Field, home of the 1996 Winter Olympic Games, which left Ed Hula from Around the Rings Magazine wondering if that would reflect badly on the United States to tear down a former Olympic stadium.
"If that's our biggest issue, I think our bid is pretty strong," answered Scott Blackman, chief executive officer of the USOC.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced Nov. 13 the city's $19.5 million plan to tear down the nearly 20-year old ballpark, prompted by the Atlanta Brave's upcoming move to a new stadium in Cobb County in 2016. Reed said there would not be a vacant structure on the south side of town.
In a phone conference with USOC Chairman Larry Probst and media organizations, Blackman said he understands the decision the city of Atlanta.
When the Olympic organizers built the $550 million stadium, they said their goal was to avoid "white elephants and for each of these things to have a use after the Olympics is over."
And it did for 20 years.
"That is a great memory. I think that is also a great example of public/private partnership," Blackman said. "It's kind of a sad moment, but that's what happens when you've got public/private partnerships."
Based on the number of times it was used in the years after the Games for Braves baseball games, Blackman claimed the stadium got more use out of it than any other Olympic stadium in history.
As a gift from the USOC to Atlanta, the stadium did not cost taxpayers a dime, and was clear of debt.
Ultimately, Blackman reminded the media that the USOC is still unsure if it will bid to host the 2024 Winter Olympic Games.
If the USOC bids, Blackman stated the committee would choose a city out of an informal process in an effort to avoid cities spending time and money.
Although there were no specifics, Blackman clarified less than 10 states are interested in hosting the Games.
The city of San Diego said it would start publicly fundraising $2 million - $3 million once they find they have some "indication in the mix."
The USOC is not in a hurry to choose a city.
"We want to take it slow. We want to make sure we understand what the IOC is looking for. We want to make sure the city understands strong leadership groups and strong support from the political and businesses communities," Blackman said. "We want the ability to finance the games and the ability to have a venue and transportation plan that can make it a great experience for people who come to attend."
Blackman stated the earliest a decision could come is after the Sochi Games in February.
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