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2012 membership could get you a place in line


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 5, 2001

As you arrive at the office in coming months, don't be surprised if someone asks you to join the effort to land the 2012 Summer Olympics.

The Florida 2012 group is selling individual memberships so people can show their support. But unlike previous Olympic membership drives in other cities, this isn't just symbolic.

A membership will get you a place in line to buy tickets if Central Florida lands the Games. That makes the idea similar to seat-deposit plans used by sports teams such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The initial cost for a basic membership is $20.

But members would be asked to pay to renew in 2002, if Central Florida is picked by the U.S. Olympic Committee as the U.S. bidder, and again in 2005 if it gets the Games. After that, the membership would be renewed each year.

"We think the idea of giving priority for tickets makes it more attractive," said Ed Turanchik, chief executive of Florida 2012.

The group has lined up $10-million worth of cash and in-kind contributions from Florida companies. Among the largest contributors: Bank of America, Sykes Enterprises, Outback Steakhouse and Tampa Electric.

Now, Florida 2012 is asking companies to allow Olympic officials into office lobbies to pitch the individual memberships.

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