Globalization part 2


I just got back from Center City, where Philadelphia Mayor John Street held a press conference with members of the United States Olympic Committee touting the city's bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.

As far as projecting an image of this city goes, they could not have picked a better backdrop: the heart of LOVE Park, a tree-lined Ben Franklin Parkway and the Philadelphia Museum of Art on an overcast but warm spring afternoon. But there are plenty of questions to deal with, chief among them whether the city has the infrastructure and political will to host the world's biggest sporting event.

Two of the people charged with answering those questions have close Penn connections: President Amy Gutmann and Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen, a Penn trustee. Both were present and seated in the front row during the press conference, as they are members of the local bid committee.

"I think that Penn would obviously play a role not only from a facility perspective but also from the perspective of leadership, civic leadership and idea leadership around the Olympic Games," Cohen said.

It is great exposure for Penn to be involved in the bid, and you can be sure that many of Penn's sports facilities will host Olympic events -- especially whatever new ones come in the Postal Lands development. And you can bet that there will be a lot of talk about redeveloping Franklin Field as an Olympic-quality track and field venue.

"We'll be a partner in this whole Philadelphia effort, and so we'll be a part of what makes us be able to put together a full package for the Olympics," Gutmann said.

Penn fencing coach Dave Micahnik, a three-time Olympian, was there as well, and was very excited about the prospect of the Games coming here.

"The thing about having the Olympics -- it changes the city," he said. "You become an Olympic city, a place that's remembered forever as being somewhat special."

Stay tuned -- not just for more information in Friday's DP, but as the bid process continues in the months and years to come.

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