JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The U.S. Olympic Committee sent out a letter to the mayors of 35 cities on Tuesday to gauge each city's potential interest in hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics. Jacksonville is on that list of cities.
Included on the list is the nation's top 25 largest cities, which range from New York City (population: 8.2 million) to Nashville/Davidson County, Tenn. (580,000). The USOC also sent letters to 10 other cities that have previously expressed interest in hosting the Games.
35 U.S. cities that could host the Olympics (but maybe shouldn't)
There is no guarantee that the USOC will bid for the 2024 Games, USOC spokesperson Patrick Sandusky said in an email. The USOC could potentially pass on the Summer Games if no strong candidates emerge and instead pursue the 2026 Winter Games.
The USOC has more than two years to decide on whether to submit a bid for 2024. In the letter sent to mayors, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun wrote:
"We would like to begin having discussions with interested cities about possible bid themes as well as the infrastructure, financial resources and other assets that are required to host the Games. Our objective in this process is to identify a partner city that can work with us to present a compelling bid to the IOC and that has the right alignment of political, business and community leadership."
"The staging of the Games is an extraordinary undertaking for any city, with operating budgets in excess of $3 billion, not including costs associated with venue construction and other infrastructure.
Among the many requirements are:
- 45,000 hotel rooms.
- An Olympic Village that sleeps 16,500 and has a 5,000-person dining hall
- Operations space for over 15,000 media and broadcasters.
- An international airport that can handle thousands of international travelers per day.
- Public transportation service to venues.
- Roadway closures to allow exclusive use for Games-related transportation
- A workforce of up to 200,000.
- "While the Games require a formidable commitment, they also provide an unparalleled opportunity for a city to evolve and grow. The Games have had a transformative impact on a number of host cities, including Barcelona, Beijing and London. They enable the creation and implementation of a new vision and provide a powerful rallying point for progress.
"As you likely know, the U.S. submitted bids to host the 2012 (New York) and 2016 (Chicago) Olympic Games. Both New York and Chicago had to participate in a domestic bid process that cost upwards of $10 million before they were designated by the USOC as an IOC Applicant City."
Last year Blackmun resolved a revenue-sharing dispute with the IOC that held up potential American bids. Those tensions played a part in Chicago's first-round elimination in the vote for the 2016 Summer Games. New York was a candidate for the 2012 Olympics before losing in the second round.
In Jacksonville, Monte Froelich is Captain of the downtown water taxi, his first reaction.
"Wow,really," he said. "You know I think it is a great thing. We managed to pull off a Super Bowl, that did a lot for the city. I am sure it would really put us on the map. "
Froelich would love to see it happen, but wonders if the city could even pull it off.
Fion MacCool's general manager Paul Glaser thinks it would be phenomenal for the city and he believes the city can do whatever it wants if everyone pulls together.
"That's awesome. It would be some great economic impact to our city, not just in 2024, building up to it over the next ten to eleven years, building it, all the jobs it would create. It would bring people in and the future after 2024. Olympic cities always get a lot of tourism after that," said Glaser.
Jacksonville's sports and entertainment director Alan Verlander said it is a testament to Jacksonville and what it's done in the past to be asked.
"It is a huge huge undertaking for a city of any size, but we'll look at it and see where maybe it takes us," said Verlander.
"I think anything that puts you on a global map like this, an event like this, you have to take a look at it. I don't think we would be doing the citizens of Jacksonville, I don't think we would be doing the city as a whole, justice if we didn't even look at it, so we certainly have to look at it and then we have to decide and with the mayor's leadership we will decide if this is something we will decide if we can even attempt to put it together or not."
Kelly Whiteside, USA TODAY Sports