A group from the U.S. Olympic Committee is expected to visit San Diego in September or October to assess the region as a potential site for the 2024 Olympic Games, said the chairman of a local exploratory committee formed to make a bid on the event.
Vincent Mudd, chairman of the local committee, said the USOC team plans a visit to see what the region has in terms of its infrastructure, transportation systems and other requirements as a possible host city.
USOC Communications Director Mark Jones said the organization has not scheduled a visit to San Diego but that it is involved in “informal discussions” with 10 cities to determine “whether or not to bid on the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
Mudd said San Diego is on the list of 10 cities the USOC is considering, although it hasn’t made the list public. Other cities that are being considered include Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and Tulsa, Okla.
A committee of 32 San Diegans is working toward getting San Diego into the next round of possible cities by January 2014, when the USOC is expected to shorten the list to three finalists, Mudd said.
The U.S. bid would be submitted to the International Olympic Committee for its decision in 2017.
“San Diego is not just a pretty city,” said Mudd, a retired former owner of San Diego Office Interiors. “It’s so dynamic and successful that the entire world needs to come and spend five weeks here.”
The recent Olympic effort differs from a bid floated about eight years ago for a first binational Olympic Games by San Diego and Tijuana. Mudd said the IOC has ruled a binational Olympics is not permitted under its bylaws.
But the committee still plans to showcase the city’s ties and proximity to Tijuana as a part of its strategy to win the Games, Mudd said.
The first step in the long process of winning the U.S. bid city designation is convincing the USOC that San Diego is capable of handling the gargantuan task of putting on a sporting event involving more than 100 countries and attracting thousands of visitors, Mudd said.
Just getting the city’s bid together for that first cut will take money, about $2.5 million, for developing plans, engineering and media outreach, he said.
The committee is seeking the public’s support for the effort in two ways: by joining an anticipated army of some 25,000 volunteers and by contributing to the campaign via the San Diego Foundation.
To naysayers who scoff that San Diego cannot even begin to consider itself as an Olympic city, Mudd said they should look around and see what the region has already accomplished.
Even if the effort doesn’t succeed, the region will win because planning for such a massive event can serve as catalyst to create a truly great city, he said.
“We can do anything we want to in San Diego as long as people believe that the benefits return to the people,” he said.
— Mike Allen