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Originally published March 21, 2013 at 8:24 PM | Page modified March 22, 2013 at 9:44 AM

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Poll: should Seattle bid on 2024 Olympics?

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has asked a local sports group to open informal discussions about a possible bid for the 2024 Olympics.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has asked a local sports group to open informal discussions about a possible bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

In response to a query from the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) to 35 major cities, McGinn asked the Seattle Sports Commission to find out more about becoming a host city.

“The mayor asked that we look at the opportunity. Is this a feasible or viable opportunity for the city?” said Ralph Morton, executive director of the Seattle Sports Commission, a division of Visit Seattle, formerly the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau.

McGinn’s office said it wants to learn more about the details of the bid process.

“We will await the conclusion of that conversation before determining next steps,” said Aaron Pickus, spokesman for McGinn.

In a February letter to McGinn, the USOC said it was reaching out to cities that had previously expressed an interest in bidding, as well as the largest 25 U.S. markets.

Scott Blackmun, CEO for the Olympic Committee, said it has two-plus years to decide whether it wants to submit a U.S. bid for the 2024 summer games. New York submitted a bid to host the 2012 games ultimately staged in London. Chicago bid on the 2016 games.

Blackmun said the USOC wanted to begin discussions with potential cities about the money and infrastructure necessary to host the games.

“Our objective in this process is to identify a partner city that can work with us to present a compelling bid to the IOC and that has the right alignment of political business and community leadership,” Blackmun wrote.

He cautioned that staging the games is an “extraordinary undertaking” and likely means an operating budget in excess of $3 billion. Among the requirements are 45,000 hotel rooms, an Olympic village that sleeps 16,500 and has a 5,000-person dining hall, an international airport that can handle thousands of travelers per day, public transportation to venues and a work force of as much as 200,000.

The Seattle Sports Commission produces and promotes large-scale sports events in the region including several NCAA basketball tournaments, the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon, the Boeing golf classic and the U.S. Olympic team diving trials.

Morton said the commission will take a business approach to the question of whether it’s financially and structurally possible for the city to host an Olympics. London spent more than $13 billion on the games.

“We’re growing our city. We’re already looking at transportation infrastructure. The question is whether it’s realistic or not. We want to leave a positive legacy, not build a bunch of buildings that will never be used.”

The Seattle City Council in 1998 declined to support a bid for the 2012 Olympics because of the potential cost and the requirement that Seattle make up any shortfall in revenues to the International Olympic Committee.

Councilmember Nick Licata, who opposed the previous bid, said he’d be open-minded about a new inquiry. But he added: “I’m concerned about how we use public funds because we never seem to have enough.”

Lynn Thompson: lthompson@seattletimes.com or 206-464-8305. On Twitter @lthompsontimes

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