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An Olympic Dream for Western New York

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Rochester: An Olympic Dream for Western New York
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As Rochester prepares to host the gold medal winning U.S. women's soccer team, the recently concluded London Games are still fresh in people's minds. YNN's Mike Hedeen reports that a local man wants to keep that alive by making a bid to bring a future Olympics here in Western New York.

AVON, N.Y. -- Al Schneider has a dream, one he's had since the 1990s. The Henrietta resident wants to bring the Summer Olympics to Western New York with Avon in Livingston County as the central location.

"I think that would be kind of crazy," said Claire Prine, Avon resident.

Schneider is CEO of the New York Sports Congress, a non-profit organization. He said the idea first came to him while living in Atlanta when that city won the bidding rights to the 1996 games. Following those Olympics, Schneider started an effort to bid for the games believing it would be a huge boost to the region.

"We need development. The massive development that comes with the Olympic Games. What other event in the world, it's like an infusion, would infuse that amount of financing," asked Schneider.

He envisions farm land in and around Routes 5 and 20, and Route 15 in Avon for an Olympic Village and other venues. Some may think he's crazy, but Schneider is serious.

"I put a call to the USOC myself, and they kind of confirmed to me that 2028 may be a possibility," noted Schneider.

Schneider's plan would stretch the games from Syracuse to Buffalo. He envisions a domed stadium with a retractable roof for a corn field off Lake Road in Avon that would be home to the Buffalo Bills following the games. The Carrier Dome would be his basketball venue, and Ralph Wilson Stadium for soccer. Rowing could be in a number of locations, including the Erie Canal, Genesee River, or one of the Finger Lakes. Lake Ontario would host the sailing events.

Schneider said, "From what the people at the Rochester Yacht Club tell me, Lake Ontario has one of the finest and unique sailing conditions in the world. In the world! We're talking right here at our back door."

With Avon being a small, quiet community, some residents said they wouldn't want that lifestyle disrupted by hosting the Olympic Games. They believe it would bring too much congestion to the area, and forever change the place they call home.

"I like it quiet. If it would benefit our school and our sports, I guess it would be okay, but I think afterwards it would just be a big mess," said Prine.

But, David Crawford thinks it's a great idea. He especially likes the though of the Bills playing in a proposed stadium, as he has been a season ticketholder for 32 years.

"I'd prefer he doesn't build a dome, and builds an open stadium because we're in Western New York and I enjoy having the outside stadium, but it would be great if they could do that," said Crawford.

Schneider is looking at the big picture and what the results could mean to this area.

"It's unfathomable in terms of what kind of economic impact there is as a result of hosting such an event," Schneider said.

Schneider said he will soon be setting up a meeting with the USOC to pitch his plan.

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