City to get down to business with USOC officials

San Francisco will not be rolling out the red carpet when U.S. Olympic officials visit Thursday. Instead, a city delegation will roll up its sleeves for a somber talk about what it will take to host the international sporting event in 2016.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced it had selected five cities — among them San Francisco — from which it would choose the host site the nation would rally behind if the committee decided to make a bid for the 2016 Summer Games.

Last week, a team of about four high-level representatives from the committee visited three of the cities — Houston, Philadelphia and Chicago — conducting no-nonsense, two-hour meetings to discuss the financial, organizational and political will it takes to host the games, and bid against other international cities that compete for the honor.

Thursday, the group will travel to Los Angeles and then finish off the exploratory visits in San Francisco in the afternoon. Each city is only allowed to invite up to 10 delegates, from the public and private sectors, for the meeting.

USOC Vice President Bob Ctvrtlik, who is one of the members of the delegation, along with the committee’s chairman, Peter Ueberroth, said the meetings were being kept low-key because “at this stage our main message is we haven’t decided on whether to bid.”

Mayor Gavin Newsom said he thought the pragmatic approach was a good one, noting that he was looking forward to hearing what the U.S. Olympic Committee needed from a city that wanted to make a competitive bid.

“We think San Francisco is an ideal city and would make America a very likely host city,” said Newsom, who was tight-lipped about who would represent San Francisco at Thursday’s meeting in his office.

This would be The City’s second attempt in recent years to become an Olympic city. Three years ago, the Bay Area lost out to New York City, which eventually lost out to London, for the honor of hosting the 2012 Olympics.

For the domestic bid, San Francisco spent more than $4 million. For its unsuccessful international bid, New York reportedly spent more than $30 million. San Francisco has never hosted the Olympic Games.

According to a survey of 515 Bay Area CEOs and top business executives done last year by the Bay Area Council, a business advocacy group, 65 percent wanted the region to submit a bid for the 2016 Olympic Games.

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