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Eight U.S. Bid Cities Meet Deadline

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The eight cities bidding to host the 2012 Olympic Games all met Friday's deadline for bid submissions.

David Biegler, Chairman of Dallas 2012 said "we believe we will be the U.S. entry. We have a proposal that embodies the Olympic spirit".

If Dallas wins the bid, its landmark site would be the centre of a massively renovated Fair Park, where a $265 million, state-of-the-art stadium would replace the Cotton Bowl.

When the Dallas bid was shipped out Thursday, Arlington Mayor Elzie Odom recalled all the criticism he and others received when Arlington first broached the idea in 1997 of bringing the Games to the area. Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, who initially was lukewarm to the idea, praised Odom and Arlington resident Grady Hicks, who initially came up ith the idea.

Although Dallas 2012 officials estimate it will cost $2.4 billion to host the Games, they say the event will bring in about $2.6 billion in direct revenue.

Houston's bid has a strong public mandate after 75 per cent of voters blessed its plan. The 632-page bid, includes a proposal budget for staging the Games and information about proposed venues, but the Houston group did not release the document because it wants to keep the information from its competitors.

The group said it would have a relatively small construction budget because most of the expensive facilities, such as Reliant Stadium for the opening ceremonies, would already be built.

So far the bid has cost more than Houston planners first thought. Expenses for the bidding process, through 2002, were projected at $3 million. Of that, the city of Houston contributed $1.5 million.

But expenses have ballooned to $6.5 million, which includes $2 million from donations such as office space, the city's grant, and $3.5 million in corporate gifts. About $1 million of the corporate donations must still be raised. But the foundation's executive director, Susan Bandy, said Houston's bidding costs are less than those of some U.S. competitors.

Among the items to be built are a cycling centre and a slalom-canoeing park and other facilities, such as the Reliant Astrodome for track and field events. The proposed Zina Garrison Tennis center in south Houston will need expensive renovations or retrofits.

Another big expense would be the Olympic Village, which would encompass 15,000 beds in new student housing, apartments and townhouses between the University of Houston and Texas Southern University. It would become student housing for both universities after the Games.

Dan Knise, chief executive officer of the Baltimore-Washington Regional 2012 Coalition said they're feeling pretty good about the bid. The coalition has hired three consultants to put together the bid, which will concentrate the Games in five locations across the region.

Each Olympic centre would consist of several venues within walking distance or a short transit ride. The centres are Annapolis, Baltimore, College Park, Northern Virginia and Washington.

Knise said the bid committee estimates the cost to put on the Games at about $2 billion. The coalition also estimates a $5.2 billion economic impact from the Games, ranging from construction and preparation to money spent by visitors and the Olympic movement.

The bid calls for a rail line to Dulles International Airport, a metro extension and parking and other enhancements to outlying Metro stops.

One of the bid's selling points is a tentative proposal to host the opening ceremonies on the National Mall, a break with the tradition of putting the ceremonies in the host city's track and field stadium.

According to a coalition poll, 82 per cent of the region's 7.3 million inhabitants support the Games coming to Baltimore-Washington.

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