The year was 1896 when Pierre de Coubertin founded the Olympic games under the motto of "swifter, higher, stronger." Those words have sparkled in the light of an Olympic flame in places such as Athens, Rome, Sydney, and one day may possibly shine at Columbia's own Baker Field.
NYC2012 is the group leading New York City's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. Under their current proposal, field hockey events would take place at Baker Field.
"I think it's exciting that the city is considering using us," Athletic Director John Reeves said.
According to NYC's 2012's plan, the group would pay for improvements to Wien Stadium, the field house, and adjacent fields. Those fields would be outfitted with temporary seating and synthetic competition surfaces required for Olympic field hockey.
Reeves said no one from NYC2012 has approached him about using Baker Field. However, NYC2012 Communications Director Kathleen Lobb said the organization has met with Columbia administrators. Other NYC2012 officials were unavailable for comment due to their presence in Sydney for the Olympics.
Still, Reeves did say the athletic department is well aware of the proposal.
"We would be extremely interested in the possibility of using Baker Field for Olympic events and would work with the city," said Reeves.
One aspect of the proposal that Reeves would like to improve is the required synthetic surfaces for field hockey. "We wouldn't want to use astroturf for our soccer stadium, but we would consider other types of turf such as field turf or something else [that] might be available in 2012," Reeves said.
New York City is one of eight United States cities applying to host the 2012 games. The others include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Tampa, Cincinnati, and Washington D.C./Baltimore. All cities must submit their finished proposals by Dec. 15, 2000, and the United States Olympic Committee will chose one U.S. candidate city in 2002. Then in 2005, the International Olympic Committee will select the 2012 host city from candidates across the world. While they still have a long way to go, NYC2012 is confident about its chances.
"We feel that we have a strong proposal," Lobb said.
Under the New York City proposal, an Olympic Stadium would be built on the Lower West Side of Manhattan, over the Long Island Rail Road yards. The Olympic Village is slated for construction on the waterfront of the East River across from the United Nations. Madison Square Garden would host gymnastics and gold-medal rounds of boxing. Basketball is scheduled for the Continental Airlines Arena, and soccer would take place at Giants Stadium.
Yankee Stadium is the proposed site for baseball, Shea Stadium would host softball, and Flushing Meadows across the way is the potential tennis site. A new arena in Brooklyn along the East River would be constructed for volleyball, while the Nassau Coliseum would be used for team handball. The triathlon competition is slated for Central Park.
Transportation issues are possibly the biggest dilemma, but NYC2012 plans to build special trains and use high-speed ferries. Remarkably, NYC2012 President Daniel L. Doctoroff maintains that the games will not need any government funding.
Baker Field has hosted international competition before. The 1993 Gay Games held its opening ceremonies at Wien Stadium. The site was also discussed as a possible cycling venue for the 1998 Goodwill Games, but Reeves said that the University was concerned about the effects of a velodrome on the Wien astroturf.
NYC2012 hasn't proposed the use of any other Columbia athletic facilities for Olympic purposes.
At this point New York City is considered a long shot host for the 2012 Olympics. Beijing and Toronto are the leading candidates to host the 2008 games, and should it go to the latter, the Games probably won't return to the United States until 2016. Still, should everything break right for NYC2012, and the Big Apple become an Olympic city, you can etch the words "swifter, higher, stronger," on the walls of Wien Stadium.