Nearly 50 people have been invited Friday to the downtown offices of an architecture and design firm — a thank-you for their part in a “clandestine” operation.
They helped San Diego win the inaugural ANOC World Beach Games.
That 2017 event was awarded Oct. 30 to San Diego — beating out Sochi, Russia; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Lima, Peru; and Hong Kong (which aimed to import sand to an abandoned airport).
Still, word got out.
“We were in rarefied air,” Mudd said of the high-stakes contest for the 10-day event to be held in Mission Beach and two downtown piers.
ANOC President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah of Kuwait called it a historic moment. The games, he said, will help national Olympic committees “reconnect with a whole generation of young people and deliver a positive and lasting legacy for the Olympic Movement.”
The San Diego Tourism Marketing District committed $380,000 to landing the hotel-boosting event, Mudd said in an interview. Taxpayer money wasn’t used.
On Wednesday, Mudd publicly revealed details for the first time — even though a host-city contract is several weeks from being signed.
Among the highlights:
- The games will draw 3,500 to 5,000 athletes from as many as 206 countries. Sports federations will choose who to send in nearly two dozen sports.
- The games will cost $135 million to put on — much of it raised by ANOC through sponsorship deals in 12 major categories. TV and web-streaming rights will be sold.
- San Diego organizers will license a mascot (after a contest to create one) and raise funds through ticket, merchandise and food sales and smaller deals — such as an official parking sponsor.
- The biggest expense — $45 million — will be flying athletes here and placing them for two weeks in Hotel Circle lodging (instead of cruise ships, an initial idea). And they’ll be fed four times a day.
- The San Diego World Beach Games Organizing Committee would get a third of any “excess revenue.” ANOC gets the rest. That world body, in fact, will sell sponsorships for the 2019 games as well, even though a site hasn’t been chosen.
- Full-time employees of the organizing committee will number 12-15 for six months and then grow to 195 in summer 2017 — with 7,000 volunteers recruited for the event set Sept. 29 through Oct. 9.
- About 50,000 people a day will meander around the Mission Beach venues. About 10,000 a day will watch pier events. Ticket prices haven’t been set, but they will include shuttle passes.
Mudd, managing partner of the design firm CarrierJohnson + Culture where Friday’s party is planned, sees the games building San Diego’s stature as an international sports-event host and paying “dividends into the future.”
San Diego might again pursue an Olympics with Tijuana involved, he said, noting IOC reforms that allow such binational efforts.
“We would bring it back up,” he said, if Los Angeles fails to win the 2024 Olympic Games. “It’s obvious we have to do a good job” with the beach games.
Moreover, “if this works and [ANOC, pronounced A-knock] has a sustainable business, it will allow them to go to any country very cost-effectively,” and not commit hosts to $20 billion tabs like the Olympic Games, Mudd said.
The charm of these games, he said, is that more countries see themselves taking part — since only non-Olympic sports are involved, such as a relay of 60-meter legs and two-on-two mixed-gender volleyball.
“If you could never get into the Olympics, you can now get into this thing,” Mudd said.
Mudd said the U.S. Olympic Committee 2 1/2 months ago chose San Diego as America’s representative in ANOC bidding — beating out Los Angeles; Miami; Galveston, Texas; and Sarasota, Florida.
In Washington, he said, “we had a really good feeling we were going to win if they were truly looking for a [beach] culture” and not just making money.
In fact, ANOC leaders stressed that the debut World Beach Games avoid Summer Games trappings. So no “sequestered” athletes at an Olympic Village.
“We showed them Mission Valley (for lodging), and they loved it,” he said. “We’ll do our best to give them a great games that’s going to feel different from the Olympics.”
Neither would all competitions be confined to Fiesta Island, another rejected idea. (Organizers were denied permission to build a floating bridge for access from South Shores near SeaWorld.)
“We’re taking ANOC seriously when they say this will have to be a different games,” said Mudd, 52, a Poway resident with two sons at USC (one who will play football next year after sitting out this season).
Bleachers will be erected, but most people will simply congregate around events on the beach. It’ll be a mixing pot of people — with no sign of social status.
Wearing “silly beach shorts,” billionaire spectators can’t be told from those on welfare, Mudd said. “It’s pretty cool.”
The late-September schedule is in what Mudd calls a “sweet spot” — after Labor Day and also after a decision is made on the 2024 Olympic host city. He expects an economic boon to the region.
Security will be patterned after that of the X Games, and San Diego police and fire-rescue staff will bill the organizers for overtime.
Mudd says he’s already met with parties seeking TV and web rights, including major networks. And the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club — famed for its Over the Line summer baseball tournaments — has expressed interest in playing a volunteer role.
A major marketing blitz should begin in January, a contrast to the quiet pursuit of the event — “way too quiet,” he said. “But we didn’t have a choice.”
Mudd says one of the first hires will be a protocol officer — someone who knows how to deal with the many cultures involved.
“We’ve never had 206 countries look you right in the eye and say: We’re coming,” Mudd said. “We’re going to have unique international visitors to San Diego.”