Boro greets Olympic committee

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Dressed in matching black windbreakers, they smiled and waved to a gaggle of domestic and international reporters and followed their tour guides, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, into the USTA National Tennis Center.

It was the first carefully crafted photo-op of the IOC during the committee's three-hour sweep through Flushing Meadows and Hunters Point, areas that would figure prominently in the Games.

The second postcard moment came a few hours later, when Doctoroff, the architect of the city's bid, led the IOC down a pier in Gantry Plaza State Park in Hunters Point, pausing in front of a backdrop of midtown Manhattan before the party boarded a ferry to Brooklyn.

"It's a beautiful day," said a member of the IOC, which is charged with evaluating the city's plan to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. It was Day Two of the committee's four-day stay in New York, which is competing with Paris, Madrid, London and Moscow.

Officials from NYC2012 - the committee behind the city's bid - want to beat the other candidates with a campaign stressing New York City's diversity and sense of meritocracy - ideals they say perfectly match the Olympic Spirit.

"The Olympic Games in New York City. Every Country will have a home field advantage" read a digital billboard along the Long Island Expressway the IOC passed while traveling between Flushing and Hunters Point Tuesday.

"I think New York City is the kind of place where you know that if you work hard enough and you're smart enough, you can make it," said former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, (D-N.J.), an NBA veteran and Olympic Gold Medalist who NYC2012 tapped to tout the Games to the committee and press corps. "I think it makes perfect sense that New York be selected. New York and the Olympics are perfect together."

And Flushing Meadows Corona Park would be the perfect place to host five Olympic events - archery, tennis, water polo, rowing and whitewater rafting, Jay Kriegel, executive director of NYC2012, told the IOC during a briefing in the Queens Museum of Art. The park has a proven history of hosting large events as home to the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs, he said. And the Tennis Center hosts the U.S. Open.

"So the infrastructure in this park is extraordinary already," Kriegel said.

It would be more impressive after the games, with three new world-class recreation areas: the East Coast's first artificial white-water rafting slalom in the Fountain of The Planets; a 5,000-seat archery range that would be left in the shadow of the Unisphere; and an $83.2 million regatta center in Meadow and Willow Lakes which would be dredged, partially restored to wetlands and connected.

"They're badly polluted," Kriegel said of the artificial lakes built by legendary city planner Robert Moses. "It's our biggest project. After the games it will be a wonderful legacy facility."

The IOC got a stellar view of the entire park from the top of the Tennis Center. The ground was dusted with a layer of snow and multi-colored balloons flew in the distance, marking the location of each proposed venue.

They got a similar view from above across the borough from the top of the towering Avalon Riverview building in Hunters Point. The committee was taken to the top of the building to gaze down at a 61-acre industrial site along Newtown Creek slated for the $1.6 billion Olympic Village, which would be sold as market rate housing after the Games. Marshall and the mayor have said the project would move forward regardless of the bid's outcome.

"The village is right at the center of the Games," Kriegel said. But not everyone was happy with the bid plans. An opponent of the proposed West Side Stadium attempted to hand the IOC an alternative stadium proposal in Flushing Park. Chairman of the Queens Olympic Committee David Oats settled for handing a three-page letter touting his plan to reporters when he failed to get close to the IOC.

Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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