Olympic opportunity shows city has developed reputation for sports

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 10:15pm

Scott Ramsey is flattered that the city was asked.

The president and chief executive officer of the Nashville Sports Council stressed, though, that before Nashville would pursue something as grand as a bid to host the Olympics it would have to ask some serious questions of itself.

“You’re looking into the billions of dollars in terms of the cost,” he said. “We would have to ask ourselves as a city if we’re prepared to take on a project of that magnitude.”

Nashville was among 35 cities that were contacted by the United States Olympic Committee on Tuesday to gauge potential interest to serve as a host for the 2024 Summer Olympics. The cities included the country’s top 25 in terms of population, of which Nashville is 25th.

The letters were sent to the mayors of each respective city.

Ramsey, who was out of town, had not seen the correspondence and was not clear how detailed it was. According to reports, though, requirements for a host city include 45,000 hotel rooms and an Olympic Village that sleeps 16,500 and has a 5,000-person dining hall. There also are mandates on public transportation.

Nashville would have to build venues for various sports and upgrade infrastructure to handle the event, which takes place every four years and attracts competitors and fans from all over the world.

“No. 1, do we want to apply?” Ramsey said. “That process alone could cost in the tens of millions. The USOC is merely seeing which cities might be interested. It will pick one to support but even then there’s no guarantee that a U.S. city would get picked to host the Games.”

He added that the timing would be problematic and many of the logistics to submit a bid would have to be settled within two years.

“You’re looking at 10-12 years down the road, which seems like a long time but in a process such as this it’s pretty quick,” Ramsey said.

In other words, it is not likely to happen.

After all, last year Nashville passed on an opportunity to bid to host the Champions Bowl, an addition to the college football postseason landscape that will coincide with the implementation of a four-team playoff. The game ultimately was awarded to New Orleans.

“I look at it as similar to the Champions Bowl,” Ramsey said of the USOC’s inquiry. “Now we’re in the conversation with folks on a lot of these events. We’ve created a reputation that we’re a sports destination and not just a music destination.

“That wasn’t the case 15 years or so ago. I think it speaks well to what we’ve done with the addition of professional sports teams, the Music City Bowl and other events. People know this is a place they can come for first-class events and that they’ll be treated well when they are here.”

1 Comment on this post:

By: courier37027 on 2/25/13 at 7:40

Back in the 80's then-Mayor Richard Fulton talked about landing the 1996 Summer Olympics in Nashville. That was a fantasy and long shot. Such is the case for any huge event for Nashville.

This city has come a long way since Nashville Sounds AA baseball in 1978. I never would have imagined NFL and NHL in this town. However, let's kill notion this city can host an Olympics or a major sports event. There are reasons Los Angeles, New Orleans, Miami, Phoenix and other cities get multiple Super Bowls, BCS Championship Games, Final Fours, even World Cup host nation pool games. Warm weather climate, a reputation for hosting and entertaining tens of thousands of tourists and conventions weekly or monthly, major corporations with headquarters near or in these towns. There is a big difference between a Super Bowl and CMA Week.

Nashville, stick to the Music City Bowl, mid-major and occasional SEC basketball tournaments, first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games every six or so years, country music based entertainment, MLB winter meetings. You seem to have found your niche here.