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San Antonio Wins Bid for 2007 Pan-Am Games

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COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — The U.S. Olympic Committee chose San Antonio over the Triangle Saturday to be in the running to host the 2007 Pan American Games.

The N.C. Bid Committee 2007 had been courting the Games for two years, and had been ready to hear a decision in its favor.

The news was a disappointment to the hundreds of people who worked hard for the bid, but they are keeping up the Olympic spirit of good sportsmanship.

"Life goes on," said Winkie LaForce, president of the N.C. Bid Committee. "And everything happens for a reason, and I think this whole process has already brought so much attention to our area, and integrated so many cultures and so many people."

As the San Antonio committee rushed to spread the news to those back home, they also vowed to deliver on their promises to the Pan Am Games.

"You will see over the next months and years the promises we will keep to make this the most sucessful Pan American Games ever," said Cyndy Krier of the San Antonio Bid Committee to the USOC.

At a news conference, USOC officials did not say how close the vote was or what tipped the decision in San Antonio's favor.

"No one's a loser here," said Herman Frazier of the USOC. "San Antonio gets the games, and North Carolina will probably come back with us sometime later and will try to do some other events."

The North Carolina delegation says they will be back. Their experience in putting together the Pan Am bid can only help North Carolina land other sports events in the future.

Because the committee emphasized the athletes in their bid, their presentation on Saturday included an appearance by soccer star Mia Hamm.

"I mean, you look at a 30-mile radius, and I don't think you could hand-pick better venues and a better atmosphere to compete in," said Hamm to the USOC before it made its decision..

The bid committee played to its strengths by boasting about the Triangle's quality of life and quality sports arenas.

Because half the athletes that compete in the games are Spanish-speaking. committee member Frank Gonzalez played down a perceived weakness on North Carolina's part. The Cuban immigrant-turned-Raleigh business owner promised that every athlete would feel right at home in the Triangle.

"I'm very proud to say that we have the second fastest-growing Hispanic population in the country," Gonzalez said.

But San Antonio's bid committee played heavily to its large Hispanic population and number of bilingual residents. The team said it was more likely to beat competition from internationl cities.

"I think we gave them every reasonable opportunity to choose Raleigh-Durham," said Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer. "I think we have done the very best we can to represent a remarkable area of the country."

Olympic swimmer andN.C. Stategraduate David Fox was one of the athletes who helped draft the bid. Like Hamm, he told the USOC why he wanted to bring the Pan American Games home.

"I'm so proud of the area I grew up in. Just to have our city and state showcased internationally would be amazing. So I've done whatever I can do to be involved in this," Fox said.

San Antonio will compete with other cities around the world, such as Rio and Guadalajara for the final site selection.

The Pan Am Games have not been held in the United States since 1987. Many observers say the U.S. candidate city will eventually land the 2007 Games.

A final decision on where the 2007 Games will be held will made in 2002.


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