Think of it as Olympics Lite — a Summer Games without Bob Costas, security zeppelins and a bunch of big, sweaty Greco-Roman wrestlers.

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Think of it as Olympics Lite — a Summer Games without Bob Costas, security zeppelins and a bunch of big, sweaty Greco-Roman wrestlers.



The full program for the June 7-12 Pacific Rim Sports Summit, unveiled yesterday by a cast of Olympic sport characters including new honorary chairman Lenny Wilkens, offers up a mix of sport not often seen around the Emerald City, or any city:


• The juggernaut USA women’s softball team, which has made hamburger of every opponent it has faced in the past several years, including the Athens Games, will take the field at Marymoor Park to face rivals China, Australia and Japan — with most of its undefeated, history-making Athens team intact.



• Many of the world’s top track and field stars will be making laps and clearing hurdles on a souped-up local high school track — at Southwest Athletic Complex in West Seattle.


• Elite gymnasts from the world’s powerhouses, China and the U.S., will perform in the Tacoma Dome.



• Squads of the world’s best 17-and-under men and 19-and-under women’s basketball players will take the courts of KeyArena and Everett Events Center.


• An Olympics-style opening ceremony at Safeco Field, featuring artists, athletes and “name attractions” from all the Pacific Rim nations on hand.



The list goes on, with 900 athletes from nine nations — the U.S., China, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Russia — competing in nine sports at venues from Tacoma to Everett. Six of the top 10 medal-winning nations at the Athens Games will be in Seattle, their athletes holed up in the Westin and Hilton hotels.


The final sports list: archery, track and field, basketball, track cycling, diving, gymnastics, softball, synchronized swimming and indoor volleyball.



The idea, for the U.S. Olympic Committee, is to put the world’s elite athletes on a stage at someplace other than the Summer Games every four years, said USOC CEO Jim Scherr, in town yesterday to announce the schedule and promote the event. It’s also a rare chance for the nation’s elite amateur athletes to hone their skills against top international competitors.


“It’s an opportunity for us to allow the Olympic movement to be exposed to a wider audience between the Olympic Games,” said Scherr, a former Olympic wrestler who participated in Seattle’s 1990 Goodwill Games, a much larger event also organized by the Seattle Organizing Committee headed by Bob Walsh.



The opportunity, for local sport fans, is significant: A chance to see many of the world’s greatest athletes competing without the fuss and fanfare, not to mention high prices, of a real Olympics Tickets, which go on sale Tuesday Feb. 1 at Ticketmaster outlets, will range from $12 to $95 (the latter for a choice seat at the opening ceremony). About 450,000 will be available.


“You’ll see some world records in competition that will push the edge of the envelope,” Scherr predicted.



Other venues include Qwest Events Center (indoor volleyball) and, King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way (diving/synchronized swimming). Event organizers hoped to use Husky Stadium for track and field, and some University of Washington dormitories for an athlete’s village. But facilities there were tied up by UW graduation ceremonies.


The national governing bodies of each sport will determine how athletes will be selected. Some already have named teams.



Softball player Jessica Mendoza said the Summit is something players crave: a rare opportunity to compete against world-class competition on U.S. soil.


“I still have goosebumps from the Olympic Games,” she said. “This is going to be pretty much a rematch, only 10 months out, of the top four teams.”



Mendoza is fully familiar with the zeal of Seattle-area softball fanatics. The outfielder and former Stanford star has been on the negative end of it in games against the popular UW women’s softball team.


“I hated the Husky fans,” she said, laughing. “They were always in your face! It will be nice to have them behind us.”



She and other athletes say the fun part of an Olympics — hanging out with international competitors in a variety of sports — can be replicated for those five days in Seattle.


“The best part about any Olympic experience is not just the medal, but getting to interact with all the athletes” from other sports, said Blaine Wilson, a silver medalist in gymnastics at the Athens Games.



The competition won’t be bad, either, he added.


“Japan, China, Korea — those are all the powerhouses.”



The event, meanwhile, got a big-profile public face with the naming of Medina resident and NBA player/coaching great Wilkens as its honorary chairman.


“I couldn’t imagine a better place to have the games,” said NBA great Wilkens, a coached the 1992 and 1996 gold medal U.S. Olympic teams. “There’s no place like Seattle.”



Noticeably missing from the schedule, at least for some local fans, is short-track speedskating, a winter sport dominated by Seattle Olympic star Apolo Ohno. The sport had been proposed earlier, but was dropped when participating nations recently agreed to limit competition to Summer Olympic sports that will take place at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.


The event is planned again for Seattle in 2007, the summer directly preceding the Beijing Games. Discussions continue with Beijing officials to host the summit there in 2006. If that doesn’t happen, the Summit might still occur at a different location, Walsh said.



Meantime, improvements will be made quickly to some of the smaller venues — mostly additional seats, lighting and other additions. Marymoor Park’s velodrome, in particular, will be signficantly upgraded, Walsh predicted.


“We want to leave a legacy, the way we did with the Federal Way pool” after the Goodwill Games, he said.



The budget for the event is around $10 million, and most of the financing has been secured, he said. Because it’s an international event, organizers expect federal help with security. Details of a planned television package with NBC have not been announced.


For more information, see pacificrimsportssummit.com.



Ron Judd: 206-464-8270 or rjudd@seattletimes.com.