David R. Henderson  


From Poverty to Prosperity<... Ross Douthat's Strange Supply ...

Poor Rio, Lucky Chicago

Not everyone, however, is convinced that preparing for a 17-day sports event is the best way to undertake socially responsible urban planning. Mr. Garvin himself invokes "the inherent conflicts between great urbanism and a functional Olympic plan."

This is from "Is Rio's Win Chicago's Gain?" by Julie V. Iovine.

The whole thing is worth reading.

Another highlight:

For the 2012 London Games, it is guessed that the city is already $20 billion in the hole with no obvious future revenue stream to pay off the debt if venues are taken down.

Interestingly, Iovine mentions nothing about the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, which were carried out with a lot of existing facilities and, therefore, led to no debt. At least that's what Wikipedia says and it was widely reported at the time. You remember the 1984 Summer Olympics, right? Those were the ones that Michelle Obama, at age 20, watched while sitting on her father's lap.

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COMMENTS (10 to date)
mobile writes:

But the most notable existing facility for the 1984 Olympics -- the Memorial Coliseum -- was constructed for the 1932 Olympics. Every city would be more cost effective at hosting the Olympics if they could do it more than once.

Brittany writes:

The Olympics are a great way to bring diverse people together for a celebration of talent and friendly competition. But as history has proven to us, bringing all of these spectators and athletes into one area at one time has a large price to pay. Over time the Olympics has grown into a commercialized event that supposedly has various benefits for the host city. After reading "Is Rio's Win Chicago's Gain?" it seems like most of these proposed improvements for the city just end up as extremely expensive, yet useless structures that just sit there or take more money to change into usable constructions. As mentioned above, the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics had no debt because they used existing facilities, but that was 1984! It is now 2009, 25 years later; the Olympic event has changed dramatically. They are commercialized, more countries participate, there are more sports, and with developments in technology there is an increased concern with aesthetics and appeal (which of course cost more money for the city). Plans have become more extravagant, but in the long run are just superfluous additions that go beyond normal city needs. Personally, I think that some expense is required to continue this great event; however planning for the Olympics should reflect actual city needs and limit the extra expensive glamour that adds to the debt that is usually associated with this big show.

dullgeek writes:

The full "lap" quote is this:

Some of my best memories are sitting on my dad's lap, cheering on Olga and Nadia, Carl Lewis and others for their brilliance and perfection.
To me it seems less ridiculous, in context, to assume that she meant she sat on her father's lap watching Olga Korbut during the '72 & '76 olympics, and Nadia during '76. Mrs. Obama would have been 8 and 12 during those olympics.

Why take the worst possible interpretation of her words, when it's incredibly easy to understand what she meant?

Steve Sailer writes:

"Why take the worst possible interpretation of her words, when it's incredibly easy to understand what she meant?"

Because it's fun?

Because he has professional speechwriters who are supposed to make sure she doesn't say dumb stuff abroad?

SydB writes:

"Because he has professional speechwriters who are supposed to make sure she doesn't say dumb stuff abroad?"

It doesn't take more than a fair-to-middling IQ to understand what she was saying (ambiguous phrasing notwithstanding). And pointless to interpret otherwise. But it does give the unraveling right in this country more material by which they demonstrate their irrelevance.

David R. Henderson writes:

SydB and dullgeek,
It helps to have a sense of humor.

SydB writes:

"It helps to have a sense of humor."


Lindsey writes:

The other day it was really exciting seeing the Olympic Committee choose the city for the 2016 Olympics. Of course, I follow the Olympics, but I have never really watched when a city actually gets picked. As many Americans were, I was hoping that Chicago would get the bid. Though having never been there, everyone I know who has been to Chicago has said that it is an awesome city. But as we all know, that was not the case. After the bid was given out, I got to thinking about what would have to happen for Chicago to host the 2016 Olympics.
I have been to Atlanta and have seen Centennial Park. It is a great area but to my knowledge, it is not used anymore; a multi-million dollar facility that is not used. And the most recent games, in China; they had to build many facilities and structures that cost lots and lots of money that probably won’t get used again. The point I am trying to make is that, getting a city ready to host an Olympic event takes millions of dollars. If Chicago did earn the bid and have to build lots of arenas and structures, where would the funding come from? With the economy in a recession, everyone is cutting back on spending. Most of the funding for the Olympics comes from major corporate sponsors that do not have much money to generously hand out. I know that as an American citizen, I would love to have the Olympic Games here at home. But I would not want to have to pay my own money for it. So while it would have been great to have the Olympics at Chicago, it could turn out to be a good thing that it is not in America.


Annie writes:

Hosting the Olympics is a special time and a special honor for any city. With Rio being picked as the first South American city, who knows - after building and fixing all that they are planning to, it leaves open the opportunity for the Olympics to return many years down the road, which is probably the most beneficial for any city, as a previous comment mentioned. This video I found discusses Rio's work and what they need to do to be Olympic ready. http://www.newsy.com/videos/rio_ready_to_roar
I think they'll be able to handle it. Chicago's time will come.

Ted Craig writes:

It's not just the public cost. I stayed at a hotel in Salt Lake City that was built for the '02 Olympics. It was a nice hotel, but what made it really nice was the rate our conference paid because they were desperately trying to fill the rooms.

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