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clock Jul 26, 2006 10:00 pm US/Central

Chicago In The Running To Host 2016 Summer Games

Committee Eliminates Houston, Philadephia In U.S. Bid Process

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Jay Levine

(CBS) CHICAGO The U.S. Olympic Committee has announced Chicago is still in the running to host the 2016 Olympics.

The USOC eliminated Houston and Philadelphia as candidate cities for the 2016 Olympics on Wednesday, leaving San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago in the running for what many consider to be America's best shot in years at landing a Summer Games.

The USOC won't decide until later this year whether it even will bid for the 2016 Games. If it does, it will pick a city by the end of next March. The International Olympic Committee will pick the winning site in 2009.

The selection process began a few months ago with Olympic committee visit to all five cities.

�It must be said clearly that all five cities are capable,� U.S. Olympic Committee Chair Peter Ueberroth said. �They also have the passion for the Olympic movement. We found that to be there in all five cities.�

After receiving answers to more requests for information and viewing presentations in La Jolla, Calif., the committee narrowed the field to the three cities.

�Our international research made it clear that the three cities � Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco � were best positioned within the international sports movement to go forward at this time,� USOC Vice President Bob Ctvrtlik said.

The USOC appointed a four-person committee to evaluate information provided by the cities last month, including ideas for an Olympic stadium, an Olympic village and the amount of local and regional government support they would expect to receive.

The committee also reviewed international polling on whether the time is right for an American city to host the Olympics and which city might have the best chance to win the bid.

An extensive technical review was conducted on all of the candidates, and the committee conducted a series of 100 confidential interviews.

�Chicago and San Francisco are offering a very dramatic waterfront plan. They also have a very substantial legacy they would leave behind, and this seems to be in line to parts of winning bids in the last few Olympic votes,� Ctvrtlik said.

Los Angeles may have an advantage because of the number of venues that are already standing.

�Los Angeles, they offered a very highly professional plan with the distinct advantage of immediate readiness,� Ctvrtlik said.

Still, the three final candidates have some work to do.

�We want to be clear that all three plans at this point � will have to be significantly revised before they�re ready to compete internationally,� Ctvrtlik said.

The USOC committee cautioned that although the U.S. bid process is continuing, there are no guarantees a U.S. city will be presented in front of the international board. That decision should be made by late fall, officials said.

�It's possible that the final presentation to the board of directors may only include one city or two cities. right now there's no of the three cities that were selected today, there�s none that have an acceptable program that we can take to the international Olympic committee,� Ueberroth said.

The committee praised Chicago�s lakefront Olympic plan.

�You can just see an Olympic celebration going on in that area, but once again, that�s in my mind. We need guarantees,� Ctvrtlik said.

The plan is centered around Soldier Field and stretches south to 35th Street. The committee said Chicago got an unexpectedly strong vote of confidence from the international Olympic officials that were polled.

�Chicago put a forth a very bold and innovative plan, but we're really analyzing the entire waterfront concept, specifically the stadium proposal with the two stadiums,� Ctvrtlik said.

But members of the committee also found problems. Technical experts say they might have had the venues too close together for there to be a good traffic flow and flow between events.

�There were so many venues tightly packed. Possibly we just need to revisit where a few venues are located. We had some feedback from our transportation experts that we might have some concerns there. Nothing insurmountable,� Ctvrtlik said after the press conference.

Mayor Richard M. Daley and other city officials have been planning for the best news for some time.

In an interview after the announcement, the U.S. Olympic Committee chairman called Mayor Daley a major strength.

�Yes, you have a strong mayor. Now, if you didn�t have a strong mayor, who�s the new mayor? Is the new mayor strong or weak?� Ueberroth said.

�Chicago without Daley might be less attractive?� Levine asked.

�Those are your words, but I wouldn�t disagree with them,� Uberroth said.

Back at City Hall in Chicago, Daley was encouraged by the announcement.

�Like anything else, we're working on it. We're working at it in a sense that we think we have the best proposal we believe of any city at all,� Daley said.

�We're talking to Athens, we're talking to Sydney, of course Beijing will have it. That's unbelievable. We're going to talk to other cities, even Atlanta, to see what they did right and what they did wrong. That's realistic. Then fashion what we can do differently,� Daley said.

Jerry Roper with the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce says if Chicago should get the Olympics, leaders will work to ensure that the event will be profitable for Chicago.

�Hip, hip hooray! Finally! These are the type of events that really position Chicago as a world-class city,� said the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce�s Jerry Roper.

The mayor also enlisted the support of local business leaders, including Pat Ryan of Aon and Miles White of Abbott Laboratories, and put together a plan that has Chicago in the running to welcome the world in 2016.

Many people believe 2016 is the best chance for the United States to land a Summer Olympics in the near future. It is believed the IOC would like to put games in Africa and South America, two continents that have never hosted the games, in 2020 and 2024.

Going forward, the selection committee will review information with the remaining cities. A questionnaire seeking more information will be sought, and each city will submit a domestic bid book with a summary of all information, plans and the legacy each city believes the Olympics will leave.

An evaluation commission will then be named and a report will be submitted to the international relations division.

Each city will present a final report to the board of directors in March, after which the final decision will be made.

Dana Kozlov also contributed to this report.

(© 2006 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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