World comes to UW campus for 1990 Goodwill Games

Sunday, July 22, 1990: The rising sun breaks over the Cascade crest and flares against the windows of the dormitories on the eastern edge of campus: McCarty, Haggett and McMahon halls, the heart of the athletes village for the 1990 Goodwill Games.

Nearly 1,600 competitors are in residence on this particular morning. Those who still slumber will awaken soon, because the Welcoming Ceremony, with all its pageantry, belongs to the night just ended and the serious business of competition resumes today.

For the 150 people hired to clean up the approximately 10 tons of debris left behind in Husky Stadium, sunrise signals the end of a long night’s work. For the UW maintenance personnel arriving to prepare the stadium for the track and field competition, the dawn signals the beginning of a busy day.

The stadium is not the only place on campus where people have worked through the night, however. The 40-or-so cooks, bakers and food servers in the kitchen of McMahon Hall have been on duty since 3 a.m. The breakfast they are serving, one of six menus that will be rotated throughout the games, includes fresh fruit, hot and cold cereal, French toast, pancakes, eggs, hash browns, steamed rice, pasta, ham, sausage, bacon, grilled trout, sirloin steak, pastries and split pea soup: all part of the 5,500-calorie diet planned for each athlete each day.

Food service personnel will greet this particular sunrise with a sense of relief because their toughest test is already behind them: the return of almost 1,600 athletes after the Welcoming Ceremony. “When that ceremony is over they will absolutely overwhelm us,” said Robert Peters, assistant director for University food services, in planning for the event.

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UW Police Lieutenant Jon Brouelette watches from the command post within the village as the morning light challenges, and finally subdues, the special security lighting that keeps the 33-acre compound illuminated through the night. Out on the grounds, a dozen or so officers under Brouelette's command patrol outside the village while troopers of the Washington State Patrol walk the 7-foot, chain-link perimeter fence in the manner of guards at a top-secret military installation.

Unlike Peters and his food service workers, however, troopers and campus police officers have no idea when their toughest test will come—if it comes at all—or what form it might take. With the help of almost $20 million in U.S. Department of Defense equipment, local law enforcement agencies have hammered out plans to deal with a variety of problems—including a Munich-style hostage-taking.

“If there’s going to be any kind of threat it will probably be at the village, not at a (competition) venue,” observed Roger Serra, assistant UW police chief. Unlike the venues, the village is a potential target 24 hours a day. “Everything else is a sporting event; the village is a security event.”

Some 2,500 athletes, representing more than 50 countries and competing in 21 sports, will live in the village before the games end on Aug. 5. The games are structured so that eight athletes, or in some cases eight teams, will compete in each event. Each final heat will include a top U.S. athlete and a top Soviet athlete, joined by six other competitors chosen according to their standings in world rankings.

Chuck Alm, a 1958 graduate and former UWAA president, will be “mayor” of the village, a volunteer position traditional in international competition. where athletes are housed in a village. Part of his role will be ceremonial, Alm explained. But he will also be the person to whom coaches or athletes bring problems or complaints. Alm, in turn, will go to the appropriate staff members to, in his words, “try to figure out how to answer this concern.”

Originally conceived by cable-television magnate Ted Turner, the first Goodwill Games were held in Moscow in 1986. The 1990 competition, sponsored and financed by a group called the Seattle Organizing Committee (SOC), will be conducted on the UW campus and at other sites throughout the state.

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A bus pulls into the village and members of a newly arrived team emerge. While they watch their luggage being carried away, a greeter steps forward to give them a brief tour of the village before they check into their rooms. Their interpreter, who met them at Sea-Tac airport, translates as best she can. Somewhat bleary-eyed after a long international flight, they troop off to see the bank, the post office, the medical clinic, the disco and other facilities designed to make their stay comfortable and convenient.

A volunteer language interpreter meets each team at the airport and is assigned to them for the duration of their stay, said Alison Calvert, village/housing manager for the games. Well-versed in competitors’ biographies and the technical aspects of the particular sport, the interpreter will assist at press conferences and accompany the team whenever it leaves the village.

The rooms themselves have been reserved according to the sport. “All the cycling teams, for example, will be in the same area and dorm,” Calvert explained.

Athlete housing was part of a complex series of contracts negotiated between the University and the Seattle Organizing Committee. Other negotiations covered food service, parking, police protection, and use of Husky Stadium and Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

In all cases, the committee must reimburse the University for any expenses incurred—ranging from staff overtime to possible loss of normal Summer Quarter class or conference revenue.

“Under no conditions can the Goodwill Games cost the University any money,” said Dee Glueck, assistant director of athletics for sports facilities. The use of UW facilities—exclusive of staff and many other costs—will cost about $2 million, said Sally Marks, assistant vice president for operations, plus the cost of improvements to the track at Husky Stadium and the floor of the pavilion.

John Brandon, a consultant hired by the UW as Goodwill Games coordinator, described the University as, in some respects, “like a landlord,” which provides facilities for the SOC to use as the committee sees fit. For the most part, however, it’s a team effort with UW personnel joining the SOC to assure that everything goes well.

About 300 housing service employees will handle all cleanup and building operation services, said Paul Brown, UW housing services administrator. Brown and others have spent months planning for a flawless operation, but the unexpected can happen, and with an event this size, bad press is a possibility.

When Indianapolis hosted the Pan-American Games in 1987, for example, about 200 extra athletes showed up with no place to put them, Brown recalled. News of the athlete overflow “ran on the front page of every sports section in this country.” The planning committee was blameless, he added, “but it goes in the paper and people will think ‘My God, they didn’t plan very well.’ The funny story is that the guy running the village took his credit card out of his pocket, went down to the local hotel and booked in, like, 100 people.”

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A 100-pound Eastern European gymnast pushes her lunch tray down one of the two food service lines and pauses at the chicken featuring a rich cream sauce. Silently, but appreciatively, she notes that the sauce is served on the side, allowing her to choose plain broiled meat. Despite her rigorous training schedule, the 5,500-calorie diet planned for athletes in other sports is not for her.

Peters has designed a rotating cycle of menus in consultation with experts experienced in the Olympic and Pan-American games. Food service runs 24 hours a day; breakfast begins at midnight, lunch at 10:30 a.m. and dinner at 4 p.m. A typical lunch menu, for example, includes fresh fruit, Chinese vegetable soup, roast baron of beef, chicken breast chausseur, Cajun­style red snapper, enchiladas, sirloin steak, deli sandwiches, potatoes, rice pilaf, pasta, baby carrots, green beans, salad bar and assorted desserts.

And if those choices aren’t enough, a barbecue on the Haggett Hall patio will provide chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs on request. Peters predicts that the patio will be a popular place for athletes to, in his words, “grab a hot dog and joke around” while enjoying the expansive lake and mountain view.

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Steve St. Clair, a UW lead utility worker and veteran of more than 15 Husky football seasons, shades his eyes against the midday sun as he watches employees smooth the sand pit for the jumping competition. Satisfied with the progress, he moves on to other parts of the stadium where workers are spreading foam mats for the men's pole vault, setting out hurdles for the 400- meter hurdle competition, and giving a final manicure to a patch of grass where the Javelins, hammers and discuses will land.

While the athletes village is on campus, athletic venues are scattered all over the state. Events at the UW include track and field in Husky Stadium and volleyball and wrestling in Hec Edmundson Pavilion. The Goodwill Games have exclusive use of the stadium from July 13 through July 29 for the Welcoming Ceremony and track competition. The contract for exclusive use of Hec Edmundson Pavilion runs from July 17 through Aug. 6. The committee controls the scheduling of events, ticket sales, seating, where the press sits and who does, and does not, have access to the field or pavilion floor, Glueck explained. “We will not tell them when to start the meet, when to run this, when to run that.”

The University, on the other hand, is responsible for facility management, including seating spectators, cleanup and the fast turnaround to prepare for the next competition. The Welcoming Ceremony, with its crowd of more than 70,000, presents the biggest cleaning chore. Attendance at track and field events will top out at 24,000, which is the capacity of the stadium’s lower decks. Glueck sees the upcoming experience as pretty much business-as-usual, except that “we just don’t usually do this in July and August.”

Glueck predicts that food and beverage sales will yield the UW between $175,000 and $200,000 as part of its ongoing contract with its concession operator, the Marriott Corp. “That just about equals what we get for an entire football season, probably a bit more,” he said. The University is already enjoying the new track, worth an estimated $1.5 million, which the organizing committee installed in lieu of stadium rental.

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A yellow school bus, on its way to the village to pick up athletes for the afternoon's track competition, moves through a gate into the vehicle "sanitizing" area at the north end of the Montlake parking lot. A state patrol officer motions the driver to pull forward onto a ramp where the underside can be inspected. Bomb-sniffing dogs, provided by the Department of Defense, search for hidden devices, including plastic explosives, while officers make a visual check. The inspection completed, the vehicle passes through a gate, crosses Montlake Blvd. and climbs the hill onto campus.

Everyone—the SOC, the athletes, and to some extent spectators—will get a good deal of support, and plenty of direction from a security team that includes the UW Police, King County Police, Seattle Police Department, the Washington State Patrol and, if necessary, the FBI.

With the arrival of the athletes, Serra explained, UW and state patrol officers become responsible for policing the village. Should a situation arise that is beyond the reach of their manpower or equipment, other agencies will be ready to back them up with SWAT teams, dogs or even a helicopter if necessary. Campus police share the village command with the Washington State Patrol, which is responsible for patrolling the security fence as well as monitoring the video cameras, alarm systems, motion detectors and other security devices.

State troopers will also check the accreditation of everyone entering the village, said Lt. R.A. Rieck of the Washington State Patrol. Everyone entering, for whatever reason, will have to show an identification badge and pass through a metal detector.

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Evening yields to night and while security lighting floods the village grounds, lights in the dormitories wink on one by one. The laughter from the barbecue patio fades as that service is shut down for the night. The cheers drifting up from the stadium subside and the crowd departs. Television commentators sum up the day's events and then sign off, ending hours of worldwide exposure for, not just the games, but the UW itself.

“It’s an absolutely great way for the University of Washington to truly shine in its facilities and in service and in attitude,” Peters observed. “It’s a terrific plus for the University and I think we’re going to accomplish that.”