An image from the Opening Ceremony of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games at Centennial Olympic Stadium (now Turner Field) in Atlanta (Getty Images file)
(USA Today) -- More than two weeks since the U.S. Olympic Committee sent out letters to the mayors of 35 cities to gauge potential interest in hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said he's pleased with the level of interest already shown.
"We've gotten a handful of really positive responses and a handful of 'Gee, thanks for asking, but this really isn't the right fit for us,'" Blackmun said Friday in a conference call with reporters. "We don't want to get into any specific responses, but it's really going well. ... We also want to respect the cities who want to gauge in this process quietly if that's what they elect to do."
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Among the major cities interested, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Dallas have formed exploratory committees. Chicago will not bid and New York has been quietly non-committal.
"We're delighted that L.A. has expressed interest. Obviously L.A. can handle the Games. They've done a great job in the past," Blackmun said about the possibility of a repeat city hosting the Games. (Los Angeles hosted in 1932 and 1984.) Since London has hosted the Olympics three times, Blackmun said it's not considered a disadvantage.
"We don't have any predisposition either way," Blackmun said about whether the USOC would prefer a city that's held the Games before or a potential first-time host.
Blackmun said that there will be informal discussions with the interested cities this year. By early next year, there will be a short list of two or three candidates and by the end of 2014, the USOC will be in position to make its decision.
The USOC sent letters to the nation's top 25 largest cities and to 10 other cities that have previously expressed interest in hosting the Games. There is no guarantee that the USOC will bid for the 2024 Games. The USOC could potentially pass on the Summer Games if no strong candidates emerge and pursue the 2026 Winter Games.
The USOC has more than two years to decide on whether to submit a bid for 2024. New York and Chicago each spent up to $10 million on the domestic bid process, but this time the USOC hopes the process isn't as lengthy and expensive.
"Our hope is we can reduce some of the cost that the domestic process has in the past," Blackmun said. "It's going to be streamlined and based on more streamlined discussions."
In his letter to the mayors, Blackmun said operating costs would be in excess of $3 billion, a figure that does not include venue construction and infrastructure costs. The city would also require 45,000 hotel rooms, an Olympic village for 16,500 athletes and officials, an international airport and a workforce of up to 200,000.
The U.S. hasn't hosted the Summer Olympics since Atlanta in 1996; Salt Lake City was the last American city to stage the Winter Games in 2002.