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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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April 21, 2008 10:27 AM

Did Colorado Springs get Clay Bennett-ized by the USOC?

Posted by Ron Judd

Seattleites about to lose their basketball franchise thanks to the greed, duplicity and failed business model of David Stern's NBA might take some solace in knowing they aren't the only ones undergoing the old public-private partnership shakedown.

Even the U.S. Olympic Commitee, that paragon of amateur-sports virtue, has figured out how to enrich the feed it's getting from the public trough.

Over the past year, USOC officials began to make loud noises about the inadequacy of their executive office space, which sits at one corner of the U.S. Olympic Training Center, a major complex located in Colorado Springs since 1978. When the city failed to hop-to with appropriate swiftness, USOC Chairman Peter Ueberroth -- a former baseball commissioner, it should be remembered -- started shopping around. Before you know it, rumors were flying that the USOC was about to pack up its sweat bands and move -- to one of as many as six "undisclosed" locations just dying to get them. One candidate city where potential real-state deals were leaked: Chicago, the wannabe home of the 2016 Games.

Whether the USOC planned to move to Chicago or not is unknown. It has not, in fact, been exactly forthcoming about the supposed other bids. What is known is that the City of Colorado Springs promptly ponied up. City officials offered the USOC a $53 million public/private package, complete with 90,000 square feet of free, primo office space in downtown Colorado Springs, as well as millions in improvements to the training center, including housing space for athletes who are married or have families. A detailed timeline of the creation of the plan, which will keep the USOC in the Springs for 25 years, can be found in the Colorado Springs Gazette's overview here.

All well and good, we suppose. But some people in the Springs are wondering if the city fell prey to the old relocation bluff game. It can be argued the deal is a good one for the city, as the USOC campus brings it a fair share of attention, not to mention money from athletes, visitors and sponsors. But in this deal, the only thing the USOC set out on the public's side of the table seems a little chintzy: The city, after all these years, now has permission to use the sacred Olympic rings on its stationery and signs.

No word whether the city plans to put the Oly rings on those new tax bills. The public portion of the bill is $27 million.

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Blogroll and links

www.olympic.org: The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information.
www.nbcolympics.com: Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog
www.usolympicteam.com: U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site.
www.aroundtherings.com: Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription).
www.wcsn.com: News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions.
www.beijing2008.com: Beijing Organizing Committee Web site.
www.vancouver2010.com: Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site.
www.london2012.com: London 2012 Summer Games site.
www.sochi2014.com: Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site.
www.chicago2016.org: Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.