Philly on tour: Nutter looks for lessons in London Olympics

An Israeli flag flies outside the Azrieli Center in Tel Aviv, the next stop for Nutter and the contingent from Philadelphia.
An Israeli flag flies outside the Azrieli Center in Tel Aviv, the next stop for Nutter and the contingent from Philadelphia. (AHIKAM SERI / Bloomberg)
Posted: November 08, 2013

LONDON - Hoping to win Olympic gold for Philadelphia in 2024, Mayor Nutter has spent time on his trade trip here seeking tips from the hosts of the 2012 Summer Games.

The Olympics figured into private discussions with government officials and were a visible part of his agenda Wednesday when he visited the site of the Games here.

Earlier this week, Nutter met with Sir John Armitt, who ran the Olympic Delivery Authority, which organized London's effort. Highlights: The Games cost $12.5 billion, of which $1.5 billion came from London. One long-term object was using the Games to trigger the revitalization of East London. Now that the Games are long over, the effort continues, boosted by the infrastructure now in place and a long-term plan to bring new housing to the previously blighted area.

Which was not lost on Nutter.

"A big part of the location decision was what would happen afterward," he said. "Hosting the Games is great in and of itself, but they only last a couple weeks. . . . Hosting the Games has to serve as the catalyst for something long term, the rehabilitation of something."

Nutter formally notified the U.S. Olympic Committee in April that Philadelphia would like to be considered if the USOC decided to make a bid for the 2024 Games.

Philadelphia was among 35 cities the USOC invited to pitch for the Games.

Getting selected as the U.S. bid choice is the first hurdle the city must face, and it won't be easy. In 2006, the city swung and missed in an attempt to get the USOC's blessing to bid for the 2016 Summer Games, which eventually went to Rio.

Philadelphia's bid failed largely because the city was not widely known to international sports leaders, city officials concluded.

In the intervening years, Philadelphia has endeavored to rectify that even as it continued its cultural renaissance.

To raise its profile among the Olympic community, the city sought to host Olympic trials, successfully landing those for table tennis, fencing, gymnastics, and squash.

It has also sought to rebrand the city internationally as more than an old East Coast city with a lot of history.

Last year, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau introduce PHL as the city's logo on all its marketing material and efforts. The point is to take advantage of Philadelphia International Airport's call letters, already known by international travelers, visitors bureau president Jack Ferguson said.

Ferguson said the city, through its sports complexes, waterways, and colleges and universities, already has 27 of the 35 venues needed to hold a Summer Olympics.

Ferguson hopes an increased awareness of the city internationally will give it the boost it needs for 2024.

"The Olympics have been a rallying call for us," he said.


chepp@phillynews.com

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