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Triangle Sets Sights On 2007 Pan Am Games

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RALEIGH — It was not easy to coordinate thousands of athletes, venues, host families and events, but organizers, athletes and fans are calling theSpecial Olympics World Summer Gamesa success. Now, the Triangle has its sights set on the Pan Am Games.

Local college sports fans say the Triangle has some of the best athletic arenas in the world. Members of the North Carolina bid committee believe that is one of the strengths in recruiting the Pan Am Games.

Nearly 300 people are working to convince the site selection committee to bring the 2007 Games to the Triangle.

The Special Olympics World Summer Games was the world's largest sporting event of 1999. Seven thousand athletes from 150 countries competed at 19 venues around the Triangle. The World Games rival the Pan Am Games in size and scale.

Organizers believe the success of the World Games can only boost the Triangle's chances of landing the Pan Am Games.

"I can't help but think that lays a great groundwork for theUSOCto say the Triangle is a great place to have the 2007 Pan Am Games," said Joe Freddoso, World Games CEO.

The World Games showcased college and local athletic venues that could play host to the Pan Am competitions. The Pan Am site selection committee will visit those venues in September.

"In mid-September, we will have a site selection committee come to the Triangle. They'll look at venues, competition sites, accommodations and transportation," explained Scott Dupree, bid committee member.

The committee will also look closely at the Triangle's ability to mobilize volunteers and corporate sponsors.

More than 30,000 people donated their time at the World Games, and local companies donated millions of dollars.

"You look at companies, locally, that got involved, and the list is endless. They gave at a level that's unprecedented for many of them. That bodes well for future events," said Freddoso.

The Pan Am Games have not been held in the U.S. sinceIndianapolishosted them in 1987.

The Triangle is competing with Miami andSan Antonio. The U.S. city that is chosen will then compete against international sites for hosting honors. Many people close to the bid process think the U.S. city that is chosen will be named host of the 2007 Games.

The committee will decide in October.

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Stephanie Hawco, Reporter
John Cox, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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