City Holds Briefings on Olympic Center’s Future

2015-10-02 City Holds Briefings on Olympic Center's Future
San Diego Union Tribune – October 2, 2015 – By Allison Sampite-Montecalvo –

Chula Vista weighing options on possible take over of facility.

Chula Vista officials want the public to know that their comments are central to the future of the Olympic Training Center during a time when the city is negotiating a deal to take over the facility.

During a second community briefing Monday evening hosted by the city and consultant JMI Sports Inc., a presentation was given on current negotiations between the city and the Olympic center operator, the U.S. Olympic Committee.

In May 2014, Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun contacted the city to gauge its interested in taking over operations of the training center.

Before making a decision, the city entered into a joint agreement with the Olympic Committee and consultant JMI Sports in August 2014 to evaluate the potential risks and benefits of acquiring it and determine alternative uses.

“It (the deal) has to be economically viable with minimal risk to the city,” said JMI CEO Erik Judson.

The Olympic Committee spends about $8 million annually to sustain operations.

If done correctly, city officials believe a deal could improve the city’s image and provide recreational opportunities for the region.

“General funds could be used if the deal falls short, but our goal is not to hit the general fund,” said Deputy City Manager Kelley Bacon.

As part of the deal, the facility must remain as much as possible an elite training center with events and other compatible uses.

“We want to have something the community can enjoy and we can all be part of, preserving the legacy of the Olympic Training Center,” Bacon said.

The feasibility study took several months, with the results presented to the public Monday and during an initial briefing Sept. 24.

Judson said that an important part of the process from day one has been outreach to the community and stakeholders, including to city and state officials, universities and sports leaders.

“We listened to a lot of ideas for how this should be operated,” he said. “There are people who have a real vested interest and those who were part of the initial idea many years ago.”

Judson said now that a conceptual deal has been outlined, there are details that need to be agreed upon in a memorandum of understanding so both parties can move forward with confidence.

An MOU is an agreement that represents the foundation or understanding of a potential future deal.

Bacon said the city is hoping to solidify an agreement with the USOC by the end of the year with transfer of title in January 2017.

The U.S. Olympic Committee has title of the facility until 2025.

“If agreement is not reached then the USOC would retain title to the land and improvements,” Bacon said. “If they were to walk away from the site before 2025, then 100 acres would revert to the city for park land.”

Although city objectives so far include offering more access to residents, Judson said the new business plan likely won’t generate funds to pay for those, so another revenue option must be pursued.

Additional revenue sources could include camps, youth tournaments, developmental teams and corporate and conference training. However moneymaking ideas must be mindful of the Ted Stevens Act.

This statute protects the use of the Olympic rings and its associated words such as “Olympic,” and “Olympic Training Center,” so they are not used by other groups for their benefit.

“It does not mean that we could not have another event that would happen at the site that wouldn’t include the rings or the use of the word ‘Olympic,’” Bacon said.

The deal is still a work in progress.

“The idea is to get it all out on the table so in the long run there are no surprises,” Judson said. “I don’t have any doubt that the USOC and city are on the same page and marching toward a conclusion. We still have many opportunities to influence the deal.”

The city recently sent out what’s called a request for expressed interest to find out if anyone was interested in helping manage the facilities.

The city received 10 responses, which they will review.

The final agreement will be presented by city staff members to the City Council at a future meeting.

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