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New USOC boss needs to mend fences

Wed, Dec 16, 2009

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I suppose that we should be all a-twitter, eagerly anticipating the forthcoming announcement that we’ve all be waiting for. Who dat? Who dat? Who dat … gonna run the USOC?

According to a recent column by Phil Hersh of the Chicago Tribune, there are six finalists:

  • Sandy Alderson, a former major league baseball vice-president and former CEO of the San Diego Padres
  • Scott Blackmun, former USOC general counsel and its acting CEO in 2000-01
  • Norm Bellingham, the current chief operating officer of the USOC
  • Mark Lewis, who led the joint marketing venture between organizers of the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics and the USOC. Lewis is now president of Jet Set Sports, a global hospitality company with extensive Olympic sports business
  • Chuck Wielgus, USA Swimming CEO
  • The sixth candidate, whose name is unknown, is the only one from a corporate background with no link to the USOC or the Olympic movement.

Here’s a question – should we care?

Would any of the six make a difference in this city, as well as to the USOC?

As an organization, the USOC is in better shape than, say, Lehman Brothers or Bernie Madoff’s securities business, but that’s about it. During the last few years, the organization has managed to infuriate the International Olympic Committee, alienate the national Olympic committees of most other nations, and blow New York’s bid for 2012 as well as Chicago’s attempt to host the 2016 games.

Apparently acting on the theory that if the tough guys beat you up, you should turn on the weak kids and beat them up in turn, the USOC shook down its bankrupt hometown for $30 million. Result: the organization is actively loathed by most Springs residents.

Can this be turned around?

I don’t know about the national/international stuff. I suspect that a new paradigm is emerging, and that the United States will become less and less influential in the Olympic business (it’s a business, folks, not a ‘movement’) as more countries crash the party and demand a place at the table.

But for Colorado Springs, the best candidate is Scott Blackmun. He lives here, he’s deeply involved in the community, and he’ll know how to mend fences and heal the deep rift between the USOC and its host city. He’s smart enough to realize that it will take years, not months, actions, not soothing remarks.

Meanwhile, I have one New Years’ resolution: I will never enter the building at 27 South Tejon that the city is handing over to the USOC. The building perfectly symbolizes corporate rapacity, governmental incompetence, and bad architecture.

I can forgive the first two, but to go through all that grief and end up with a dismal piece of architrash –  that’s too much!

So to the architectural community, here’s a tip: yes, Virginia, it is possible to build elegant, beautiful, and functional six-story buildings. Just take a walk up Tejon Street, and look at the Hibbard’s building, or at the DeGroff Building … too bad the architects of those two structures died half a century ago, or you could have gotten some useful tips.

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5 Comments For This Post

  1. Eddie Says:

    I have to agree,,, the achitecture is rather pedestrian and bland. OZ is a much better firm, so what in the heck happened? And at $200+/sqft too!!

  2. Like it'll matter ..... Says:

    ArchiTrash ? Sheesh John, it beats the heck outta the new country parking structure.

  3. Dick Burns Says:

    Blackmun is the clear hometown favorite and obviously knows the job from his previoius stint. I hope reason prevails and USOC is able to save some face in light of their recent failures

  4. Liam Says:

    Who cares. USOC is toast in this city. It’s going to take years to undo the bad PR they got from the whole LandCo debacle.

    As for “ArchiTrash;” consider what they started with. The old turquoise-tile Lorigs building wasn’t exactly an architectural treasure. Maybe cheap stucco and faux marble would have been better? That seems to be the style of choice downtown these days… it’s called “throwaway design.”

  5. GotoChicagoUSOC Says:

    Architrash for the Olympitrash. How fitting it is. If they can’t decide on the next CEO, maybe Obama can appoint an Olympic czar to clean things up like he’s done with healthcare and national security?