Think of it as the old board game Clue with an oddball list of suspects. Here's a white Pekingese, there's the Polish Plumber and Albany is behind the fog machine in the corner. The moving pieces could add up to the Olympics coming to New York in 2012.
All you need to know is that this is a crucial week for the West Side stadium, that next week is crucial for the city's competitive Olympic position and that next month will either give the city the Games or end the madness.
The dog could be key to understanding how the International Olympic Committee will pick the winner. Jay Kriegel, the Lindsay-era whiz kid now wizened by virtue of the games leading up to the Games, is laboring to demolish the conventional wisdom that the odds are against New York.
"When you get down to two or three choices, the specifics of each city push out all the extraneous factors and even preconceptions," said Kriegel, executive director of NYC2012. He thinks New York will "do fine" in the IOC evaluation report to be released Monday.
That's where the dog comes in. Many years ago, Kriegel and his then-wife wanted one. They knew how big, what kind, what color. They went to a pet shop where the only pups that met their checklist were "lackluster."
"Then the owner shows us this white Pekingese, which was the last thing we wanted," Kriegel said. But the dog was absolutely irresistible. We walked out with it."
The dog, Kriegel said, "sold itself." He's betting New York will, too, despite all the talk and the European bookies who rank Paris and London far ahead of New York.
Which brings us to the Polish plumber. French voters over the weekend turned down the European constitution, a blow to the French government and a united Europe. Part of the reason was thefear that workers from poorer countries would flood France andtake jobs for lower pay. The Polish plumber became the official bogeyman.
The timing of the anti-welcome-mat vote, which could be repeated in England, could hurt Paris and London in the Olympic hunt. Given that July 6 is the winner-take-all day, contenders do not want toproject any last-minute uncertainty. The rules of the 115-member committee mean the shift of a vote or two could bring the Games to New York.
But only if the city first clears its homegrown hurdles. The Albany vote Friday on financing and the likely court ruling Thursday on some of the lawsuits against the stadium must both go the city's way.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver still isn't tipping his hand on his vote. "I don't have an answer," he said yesterday. "It's only Tuesday. A lot can happen before Friday."
Earlier he had repeated his concern to Gov. Pataki that the 24 million square feet of office space near the proposed stadium would make it harder to lure back the 67,000 workers who have left downtown since 9/11, especially with the city offering incentives to businesses to come to the West Side. And there's the public cost of the stadium, which he now pegs at "over $1 billion."
"Do we want the Olympics?" he asked. "Do we want the stadium? And at what price? Those are the big questions."
Get the picture?
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