Rome 2024 bid's village aims at wide-scale civic renewal
ROME (AP) Rome's bid for the 2024 Olympics hopes to win over international voters by using ''iconic venues,'' such as the Circus Maximus for beach volleyball and the Colosseum for nightly athletes parades.
Locally, the candidacy is relying on a wide-scale civic improvement project including an athletes village on the city's outskirts that would be turned into university housing and a hospital extension after the games.
Bid chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo presented the village plan to a packed lecture hall of 700 students at Tor Vergata University on Monday.
''Our work starts with the people living in the city, the municipal areas, the neighborhoods and your world, the university,'' said Montezemolo, the former Ferrari president. ''We want to win and contribute to the city's improvement.''
Tor Vergata is located beyond Rome's ring road and is difficult to reach by mass transit. It's on the opposite side of the city from the Foro Italico, which would host track and field and swimming.
''Tor Vergata is too far today but if you connect it with a metro and proper services, the Tor Vergata of the future won't be so difficult to reach,'' Montezemolo said. ''You shouldn't have to be a hero to arrive here. You should be able to get around like any other citizen all over the world.''
By car, reporters required nearly an hour Monday to reach Tor Vergata from the Foro Italico.
Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago showed up a half-hour late, although he claimed he made the 33-kilometer (20-mile) trip in 22 minutes in his Maserati.
Rome would like to host the games in August, when many residents go on vacation, which would reduce traffic. Special Olympic lanes would also make the trip faster, although not likely less than 30 minutes.
That could put a strain on track and swimming competitors who like to return to the village between morning and evening sessions.
Basketball, volleyball and track cycling would be held in Tor Vergata under the bid's three-cluster plan, which also includes the Fiera convention center near the main airport.
There is already a half-built sports complex in Tor Vergata that was planned for the 2009 swimming world championships, which ended up at the Foro Italico. Visible from the highway, the complex's signature ''sail'' structure designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava stands as a sort of monument to broken promises.
An estimated 200 million euros ($225 million) has already been spent on the complex.
''It's a scandal,'' Montezemolo said. ''This will be the multipurpose arena that Rome needs.''
Having witnessed Boston's withdrawal from the race after a public backlash, Rome is being extra careful to gather local support before presenting any of its plans.
While there were no questions taken, students applauded Montezemolo's speech enthusiastically. Similarly, bid vice chairman Luca Pancalli has been meeting with municipal leaders one neighborhood at a time.
Jun Ueno, the president of Tokyo Metropolitan University, was a guest at Monday's presentation, as Montezemolo cited a ''bridge'' between the 2020 Games in Japan and Rome's bid.
''We have Japan's support,'' Montezemolo said.
The other 2024 candidates are Paris; Los Angeles; Hamburg, Germany; and Budapest, Hungary. The IOC will select the host city in 2017.
''We're talking about 170,000 jobs in the seven years between the host selection and the beginning of the games,'' Malago said.
With a widespread corruption scandal, problems with garbage removal and the recent resignation of Mayor Ignazio Marino, it's been a tough year for the Italian capital.
''We can't accept the paradigm that a big event in Italy means big theft and corruption. No, no, no,'' Montezemolo said to a rousing applause. ''Every single euro invested must be accounted for. And every venue must have a legacy in place.''
Andrew Dampf can be followed at www.twitter.com/asdampf