IOC will meet July 6 to tab one of five cities for the Summer Games.
NEW YORK -- The role of underdog doesn't come naturally to a city that calls itself "The Capital of the World," but that is how New York's Olympic boosters are casting themselves as they scramble to recover from a setback that nearly wrecked their bid for the 2012 Summer Games.
The campaign, launched in 1994, seemed doomed when a three-member state committee rejected plans for a new, showcase stadium in Manhattan -- just a month before the International Olympic Committee meeting on July 6 to choose a 2012 host city.
After a day or so of despair, New York officials devised a substitute plan for a cheaper stadium in the less-than-glamorous borough of Queens, and began depicting themselves as plucky long shots who could persevere through adversity.
"If the IOC wants a city with heart, a city that can overcome its differences, that can pull together during trying times and will do everything possible to host a great games, then New York meets that test," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Paris and London remain the favorites in the five-city field, but the quick recovery at least enabled New York to avoid embarrassment and make a final pitch for a bid that -- all along -- raised several persistent questions as well as the prospect of a truly spectacular games.
On the plus side, New York boosters have accurately promoted their city as perhaps the most multinational of the contenders; its schools have children from 199 of the 202 nations that competed in the 2004 Olympics.
"The World's Second Home" became one of the bid committee's slogans; its brochures promised that every country would enjoy home-field advantage.
The plan proposed an imaginative mix of new and existing venues, arrayed in the shape of a giant "X" across all five boroughs.
Baseball would be played at famed Yankee Stadium, basketball at Madison Square Garden, the triathlon would circle through Central Park. Newly built venues would include a waterfront aquatics center in Brooklyn and a mountain biking course atop a sprawling landfill on Staten Island; athletes would be housed in 4,400 spacious new apartments across the East River from the United Nations.
Other highlights of the candidacy include a no-strike pledge by local construction unions; a promise of free marketing assistance, over the seven years ahead of the games, to 28 international sports federations; and inclusion of boxing great Muhammad Ali in the U.S. delegation that will travel to Singapore for the IOC vote.
On the negative side, many New Yorkers were clearly unenthused about the Olympics. Some felt New York already had global stature to spare; others worried about congestion or security threats.
When the IOC conducted its own public opinion surveys, gauging support for hosting the games in the bidding cities and nations, New York fared the poorest by far -- only 59 percent of city residents and 54 percent of all Americans supported the bid.