The Future of the Olympics: Baltimore 2024?

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What would it have been like if the 2012 London Olympic Games had been held in Baltimore/DC instead? Would Michael Phelps have swum even faster for a home crowd? Would John Waters be sitting in those front-row seats, instead of Kate Middleton? Would you be renting out your house for the month and paying off your mortgage with the profit you’d make? Would I be watching an intense badminton final instead of blogging right now? Possibly. And if the summer games come to Baltimore in 2024, as one key stakeholder is hoping, we might just get a chance to find out.

Dan Knise, president and CEO of the group that tried to snag the 2012 games for our region, is in London right now — and watching the games firsthand has gotten him all fired up again. “There have been some informal discussions with people. The energy the Olympics create, the optimism it creates, I feel that again. I’m optimistic,” he said. And Knise isn’t the only one daydreaming:  “It would be a fantastic opportunity to showcase the region. And we would do a phenomenal job hosting the world elite athletes and fans from around the world,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Of course, any daydream of a Baltimore-based Olympics has to involve a lot of construction; a 2000 study posited that it would cost the city $2 billion to build and run the necessary facilities, and that number would surely be higher a decade later.  “It isn’t inexpensive,” Baltimore Development Corp.’s newly-retired president Jay Brodie told the Sun. “It requires certain dollars and people’s time. It can’t just be done with government. There has to be major public and private contributions to make it happen.”

The process, of course, would be a long one. First, we’d have to beat out other U.S. cities for the nation’s nomination, and some major powerhouses — Chicago, Dallas, New York, Philadelphia — have also expressed interest. If we made that cut, we’d have to compete on an international stage — and the International Olympic Committee won’t make that decision until 2017. (2016 will be in Rio; the 2020 host hasn’t been announced yet, but Tokyo, Madrid, and Istanbul are all finalists.) So don’t hold your breath — but don’t give up hope yet, either.

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