SAN DIEGO — Bill Toomey was standing on a primitive plot of land in a remote corner of the continental United States. The date was Nov. 17, 1988. He had a camera crew in tow.
"I felt a little bit like P.T. Barnum," he said Wednesday as he stood near a running track on the same site. "All I needed was a cigar and a pinkie ring."
Toomey, the 1968 Olympic decathlon champion, is director of corporate relations for the San Diego National Sports Training Foundation. He has been raising money for the yet-to-open Olympic training center being constructed southeast of San Diego near the Mexican border.
The 150-acre project, the first warm-weather facility under the U.S. Olympic umbrella, is scheduled to be opened July 1, 1994, provided $3.5 million more in donations can be raised by February.
"If it takes longer to raise the money, it will take longer to build what remains to be built," said Patrick Barry, vice president of the foundation.
Not a lot has happened \o7 above \f7 the ground in the five years since Toomey stood on the same terrain and laughed as the cameraman asked him if he should be watching for snakes. But much has happened below the ground and on the surface.
"The infrastructure is all in," said Harvey Schiller, executive director of the U.S. Olympic Committee. "Sewers, water, electricity, roadways. When we're ready to build a gym, everything is there to service it."
Phase I, which will open when funding is completed, has been scaled back to a cost of $62.5 million from an initial projection of $81.5 million.
"We didn't want to open with a budget which would create burdens on other areas, such as our funding of athletes," Schiller said. "We can expand from where we are at."
The USOC will take over operations of what is essentially a gift from the San Diego foundation when Phase I is completed. It will expand from that point at its own pace. Schiller said the first improvement would be a gym, followed by more athletic fields and a diving pool. A visitor center is also on the drawing boards.
When the facility opens, however, the main structural presence will be dormitory rooms for 180 athletes. Much of the surface improvement for sports such as track and field, cycling, field hockey, soccer, archery and tennis are in place. Rowing, kayaking and canoeing facilities will be nearby on Lower Otay Reservoir.