.. .the Russian Olympic team cruising Greenville Avenue.
. . .the East German women’s weight lifters visiting La Bare.
… flying the Olympic banner over the Arlington amusement park to temporarily transform it into “Seven Flags.”
Imagine the 2000 Olympics in Dallas.
Such an idea, though a bit overwhelming, isn’t, in reality, that hard to believe. Nothing keeps Dallas from trying to do what Los Angeles accomplished this year-gathering all the facilities and abilities of a progressive city to attract and stage the greatest of all athletic events. It’s an idea that’s already occurred to some of the movers and shakers of the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Donald Zale, president of the Zale Corp. who was recently appointed area chairman of the United States Olympic Committee, says, “I think it would be great. From what I know of Dallas, I feel it could do anything any other city could do. There would be an enormous amount of planning to be done, but I believe that if this community committed itself to the effort, the corporate community would support it.”
Lamar Hunt of Hunt Energy, says “I believe the dynamics economically are there. We’re talking about a monumental task. But Dallas could do it.”
Says John Thompson, chairman of Southland Corp.: “It’s extremely difficult to commit a corporation to something that’s 15 or 20 years away. It would be a tough, competitive job, but I think it would be wonderful. Dallas would need support from more than just this region’s business people. But LA got it.”
Dallas has a laundry list of pluses to support an application as the host city. D/FW airport is one of the world’s finest air travel centers. The Republican National Convention is evidence that this city’s hotel and restaurant capacity can handle extremely significant events. And, although scheduling the 16-day extravaganza in July would be suicidal because of the Texas heat, setting it for the first 16 days of June would turn the Texas weather into another plus.
Ease of travel, lodging, restaurants, (not to mention weather conditions) are considerations that cities must address when applying for the Games. The International Olympic Committee requires candidate cities to complete a questionnaire. The questions make up just two pages of the 160-page Olympic Charter booklet; there are only 25 questions in all. Some of them are a piece of cake. Like question No. 3: “Are there any laws, regulations or customs that would limit, restrict or interfere with the Games in any way?”
But other questions require more detailed answers, such as No. 20: “How will the Games be financed?” Or question No. 9 that asks the city to provide “all the reasons why it should be considered as an appropriate site for the Games,” which demands research and evaluation.
New York tried for the ’84 Games and failed, losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in the attempt. That city’s answers to those 25 questions became a 125-page, fully bound book supported by an audio-visual presentation. Los Angeles’ presentation was much more professional, with books hundreds of pages long, films, slide shows, catalogues and videotapes. But then, Los Angeles has had a standing committee in place for 52 years trying to get the Games back to the City of Angels. Los Angeles was also the last American city to host the Games in 1932.
Of all the answers the IOC wants, however, perhaps the most important concerns question No. 16: facilities. The Games attract thousands of athletes and thousands more from the media. You can’t put all of them in the Hyatt. The IOC’s very plain about that. Nor can you hold the competitions in just any old place.
Here’s where Dallas can emulate the Los Angeles approach. Los Angeles drew on the facilities of its surrounding area. While we call Los Angeles the host, in truth, less than half of the 21 Olympic sports and two demonstration competitions (tennis and base-ball) will be held in Los Angeles proper. Long Beach, Anaheim, Fullerton, Lake Casitas, San Bernardino, Dominguez Hills and other cities in the general vicinity will be sites of one or more of the sports.
Dallas could do the same. Consider the various playing fields and arenas available: Reunion, the Dallas and Tarrant County convention centers, Texas Stadium, the Cotton Bowl-the list, for the most part, more than covers the needs. There are some major competition sites missing, however: There’s no velodrome for cycling; no lake large enough or calm enough for the rowing and canoeing; no soccer stadium of Olympic specifications; and no Olympic-sized pool.
But Los Angeles faced the very same disadvantages. Southland Corp. built the multimillion-dollar velodrome. The Los Angeles Olympic committee went out of the area to stage rowing-canoeing events and spread the soccer games around the country to sites as far away as the Harvard University playing field. McDonald’s built an Olympic pool at USC. The same could be done here.
Bruce Jolesch, sports promotion manager for the Southland Corp., says: “If the Games came to Dallas, we [Southland] might be very interested in doing the same here as we did in Los Angeles, especially given our base in this city.”
A complete list of the 21 required Olympic competitions and the locations where the Dallas Olympic Organizing Committee (DOOC) might stage them follows. Note that our list hasn’t even made use of such facilities as Arlington Stadium or Will Rogers Coliseum.
The massive press corps (this summer’s Games will bring more than 8,000 journalists to California) could work in the upper hall of the Dallas Convention Center, a facility almost identical to the one used in Los Angeles this summer.
This is all fine when the athletes are playing and the media’s doing whatever they do. But where do they sleep? This area doesn’t have the luxury of the huge dormitories at UCLA and USC that Los Angeles rented. Might this be the unclearable hurdle of the Dallas bid?
Quite the contrary, according to Bill McNutt Jr., who served as Texas Olympic chairman from 1971 to 1983. “You can’t tell me that some Dallas developer wouldn’t be overjoyed to build an Olympic Village that would convert to private housing after the Games. They did it in Montreal and Munich. The Montreal village was so spectacular that pictures of it became that Olympics’ best-selling poster. And today it’s private residences. Go to Ben Carpenter or Fox & Jacobs. It’s hard to conceive that someone wouldn’t jump at the opportunity.”
But “jump” is precisely what Dallas must do if it has designs on hosting the Games. The year 2000 may seem light years away, but it’s just four years away in Olympic time. The ’88 Games have already been granted to Seoul, Korea. The ’92 competition will almost certainly go to a European site (Paris and Barcelona are the front-runners). So the next real opportunity to apply is for the 1996 and 2000 Games. But the sooner is not the better in the mind of U.S. Olympic Committee Assistant Executive Director Baron Pit-tenger. “It was 52 years between U.S. sites from the ’32 Games in Los Angeles to this year’s. I don’t see much of a chance of the IOC returning the competition to this country any time very soon. The odds are slim, but they’re certainly not impossible.”
Especially the way things are going. The enormity of the undertaking is scaring more and more cities away. Los Angeles, which began its drive for the ’84 Games in earnest about 10 years ago, wound up being the only city applying for the host’s spot. In fact, only two or three cities around the world have made serious overtures for the last four site selections.
What must be done? Here’s the advice of the man at the top, U.S. Olympic head William Simon: “Work! The Olympics take an unbelievable amount of organization and enterprise. Many cities would love to have the Games in theory. But to get them takes a concerted effort by the citizenry. Homework must be done. The ball must start rolling.”
All those consulted had understandable reservations. Southland Corp.’s Thompson warned that Houston already has similar designs and has already begun laying the basic groundwork. Area Olympic chairman Zale concedes that to many corporate bosses, long-range planning means little more than trying to reach Saturday night of this week. Hunt observes that those who get behind this effort must have one more thing in common -youth. “People getting up in years really don’t see much reason to become involved in planning for the year 2000,” Hunt says. And McNutt knows that one major facility is still missing: the huge stadium. “Presently, we have no track and field stadium that would accommodate certain events. The Cotton Bowl would need major renovation in order to run the 100-meter dash. There’s no straightaway there right now that’s nearly that long.”
But surely Los Angeles faced such quandaries a decade ago. Somewhere they found the resolve. Somewhere they found people who believed. We, too, have those individuals who believe.
“I suspect the USOC would welcome interest from your area,” says Pittenger.
So imagine a discussion of shot-putters while putting down shots at Joe Miller’s. Imagine the five-ring flag flying from City Hall. Imagine Dallas on the lips of the world in 2000.
And, perhaps most important, let’s hope that by 2000 we can all imagine there still being an Olympics.
PROJECTED SITES FOR THE 21 COMPETITIONS
University of Texas at Austin
Reunion Arena, Dallas
Texas Wesleyan, Fort Worth
Richland College, Dallas
Tarrant County Convention Center, Fort Worth
University of Texas at Arlington
Willow Bend, Piano
Town Lake, Austin
Town Lake, Austin
Winchester Gun Club, Dallas
Various National Sites
Velodrome to be built
Las Colinas Equestrian Center
Loos Fieldhouse, Addison
TRACK & FIELD
Cotton Bowl, Dallas
Super Pit, Denton
SMU’s soon-to-be-built pool, Dallas
Daniel Meyer Coliseum, Fort Worth
Moody Coliseum at SMU, Dallas
Rush Creek Yacht Club, Heath
Dallas Convention Center
Texas Stadium, Irving
Texas Stadium, Irving