SAN ANTONIO -- The U.S. Olympic Committee is asking San Antonio, Houston, Austin, and Dallas along with 31 other cities if they are interested in bidding to host the 2024 Summer Games.
The USOC sent letters to the mayors of those cities Tuesday to gauge interest in a potential bid to bring the Summer Olympics back to the country for the first time since 1996.
Other Texas cities that received the letter include Austin, Dallas and Houston.
"Our objective in this process is to identify a partner city that can work with us to present a compelling bid to the IOC and that has the right alignment of political, business and community leadership," USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said in the letter.
Mayor Julian Castro received San Antonio's invitation Tuesday afternoon.
"It was a pleasant invitation to receive but it's also something that we have to give a lot of thought to before we say yes or no," says Castro.
Following failed bids by New York and Chicago for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, the USOC is taking a measured approach before moving ahead with a new campaign and wants to be sure it has a good chance of winning.
"This letter does not guarantee that the USOC will bid for the 2024 Games, but rather is an initial step in evaluating a potential bid," the committee said.
In addition to the four largest Texas cities, the letters were sent to mayors of the country's 25 largest cities -- including New York, Chicago and former Olympic host cities Los Angeles, Atlanta and St. Louis.
According to the USOC, the cities must be able to accommodate:
• 45,000 hotel rooms.
• An Olympic Village that sleeps 16,500 and has a 5000-person dining hall.
• Operations space for over 15,000 media and broadcasters.
• An international airport that can handle thousands of international travelers per day.
• Public transportation service to venues.
• Roadway closures to allow exclusive use for Games-related transportation.
• A workforce of up to 200,000.
The USOC has also said it would consider whether to bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics, although the bigger and more prestigious Summer Games would seem to be the preference.
The U.S. hasn't hosted the Summer Olympics since Atlanta in 1996; Salt Lake City was the last American city to stage the Winter Games in 2002.
Los Angeles, Dallas and Tulsa, Okla., are among the cities that have expressed interest in hosting the 2024 Games. New York, Chicago and San Francisco have either bid or expressed interest in bidding in the past and could also get in the mix.
New York finished fourth in the international bidding for the 2012 Olympics, which went to London. Chicago suffered a stinging first-round exit in the vote for the 2016 Games, which were awarded to Rio de Janeiro.
Chicago's defeat was blamed partly on the revenue-sharing feud between the USOC and IOC. The two sides have since resolved the dispute and signed a new agreement that clears the way for a U.S. bid. USOC leaders have also worked hard to improve the committee's standing in the international Olympic community.
"Now more than ever, we need to use the power of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to encourage our youth to be active and engaged in sport," Blackmun wrote.
Other cities around the world that have expressed interest in bidding for the 2024 Games include Paris; Rome; Doha, Dubai; and Durban, South Africa. The IOC vote on the 2024 Games will be in 2017.
The USOC is skipping the bidding for the 2020 Olympics. The three candidates for those games are Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo, with the IOC to vote Sept. 7 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The USOC said Tuesday it has 2 1/2 years to decide whether to submit a 2024 bid and would do so in an "economically efficient way.”
While New York and Chicago were selected by the USOC after a domestic bid process that cost up to $10 million, the USOC said it would embark on any new bid through "a thoughtful but more efficient process.”
The USOC letter sought to remind the mayors of the huge undertaking involved in hosting the Olympics. Blackmun noted that the operating costs would be in excess of $3 billion, a figure that does not include venue construction and infrastructure costs.
The city would also require 45,000 hotel rooms, an Olympic village for 16,500 athletes and officials, an international airport and a workforce of up to 200,000, the letter said.
"The games have had a transformative impact on a number of host cities, including Barcelona, Beijing and London," Blackmun said.
According to Mayor Castro, regardless of what happens in San Antonio, the invitation definitely sheds new light on the way outsiders are viewing South Texas.