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Ravenstahl declines chance to bid for 2024 Summer Olympics

| Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 12:09 a.m.

Pittsburgh's Olympic dreams must wait.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, invited by the United States Olympic Committee in February to bid to host the 2024 Summer Games, declined to do so, his staff said Tuesday.

“We didn't feel that there was enough support from the community to successfully bid for this opportunity,” the mayor's spokeswoman, Marissa Doyle, said in an email.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald agreed the community response to hosting the games was tepid.

“My sense is the community wasn't excited,” he said. “It would cost two to three billion — with a ‘b' — dollars. It's a big risk.”

Fitzgerald said he didn't discuss a bid with Ravenstahl and said the mayor likely was “distracted” from seriously considering the Olympic Committee's invitation. It occurred less than two weeks before he withdrew from the mayor's race.

“Making that decision not to run, it had to weigh a lot on his mind,” Fitzgerald said.

Ravenstahl was unavailable for comment, Doyle said.

The Olympic Committee wrote to 35 mayors to gauge interest in hosting the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.

Craig Davis, president and CEO of VisitPittsburgh, a nonprofit tourism agency, said Pittsburgh would have been a long-shot candidate. The Olympic Committee requires host cities to provide 45,000 hotel rooms; Pittsburgh has about 24,000. The region lacks many required facilities, including a stadium for track and field that could seat 100,000 spectators and an Olympic Village to house 16,500 athletes.

Still, Davis said he and other regional leaders would have enjoyed the chance to at least submit a bid.

“We would have fully done our part, even knowing that we'd have probably have been a long shot,” he said.

Philip Cynar, spokesman for Allegheny Conference on Community Development, said he was not aware of any meetings to discuss the bid.

About 10 cities expressed interest in bidding, including Dallas, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Diego, which hopes to jointly bid with Tijuana, Mexico, which would not be allowed under current rules, Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky said.

The committee does not have to submit a bid to the international body for the 2024 Summer Games but must decide by 2015, Sandusky said.

Chris Togneri is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5632 or ctogneri@tribweb.com.

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