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Las Vegas part of L.A.'s bid for 2016 Olympics

27 March 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The Olympic dream could reach as far as the Nevada desert if Los Angeles is successful in its bid for the 2016 summer games.

The Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games is expected to announce today how Las Vegas would fit into the Los Angeles bid for the games.

Barry Sanders, chairman of the committee, will join Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President Rossi Ralenkotter and Las Vegas Events President Pat Christenson for the announcement.

"It is a very competitive process," said Kevin Mortesen, spokesman for the Southern California committee.

Los Angeles is one of two American cities and several worldwide vying for the games.

Chicago; New Delhi; Madrid, Spain; Prague, Czech Republic; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Rome; and Tokyo are the others.

On April 14, the U.S. Olympic committee is scheduled to choose one of the two American hopefuls to submit to the International Olympic Committee. That committee will choose a host city in 2009.

Los Angeles is touting its existing sports facilities and experience hosting two previous Olympic Games among its attributes.

But Southern California was passed over in favor of New York as the American choice for the 2012 games, which ultimately were awarded to London.

Mortesen said the Los Angeles bid for 2016 is more competitive than the 2012 bid.

It has already survived a winnowing process that eliminated Houston, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Las Vegas was included in the 400-page bid-book Los Angeles prepared for the Olympic committees, Mortesen said. If Los Angeles is chosen as host city, Las Vegas, San Francisco and San Diego would be among sites that would host preliminary soccer events, he said.

"There are a ton of games," Mortesen said. "You have to have multiple venues."

Las Vegas is already known as a home for a number of recent and upcoming major sporting events.

In February the National Basketball Association held its annual All-Star Game at the Thomas & Mack Center on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus. The selection of Las Vegas made headlines because it was the first time a city without an NBA franchise hosted the event. A men's basketball qualifying tournament for the 2008 summer Olympics is scheduled for the Thomas & Mack Center in August. Las Vegas is also home to NASCAR stock car races and will host a grand prix event next month.

Chicago is also making a strong bid for the games. Boosters there say that it hasn't hosted the Olympics before is an advantage. They also say sporting venues in Chicago are closer together than those in Los Angeles.

The announcement today is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at the Las Vegas Convention Center.