The Wikipedia article on the Boston bid for the 2024 Games includes a table of existing facilities that could be used. It does mention that the main Olympic stadium would need to be built, although I don’t know why they could not use Gillette Stadium or Harvard’s for this.
And I’ve got this crazy idea that many of the stadiums could be built on a giant barge that could then be towed to the next host city (assuming it’s a coastal city). That way, it wouldn’t be necessary to build many one-time use facilities.
That there were so few bidders for the 2022 Winter Games (and especially that Oslo and Stockholm chose not to bid) was, I hope, a huge wake-up call to the IOC that something needs to change. Many of the winter sports are of interest to the Swedes and the Norwegians (and in fact many of them originated in the area) and they’re prosperous countries. So if they can’t make sense of it, who can?
The 1984 Games also had to be given to LA without a bid. No other city went through with a full bid. LA got to dictate the terms.
The Montreal fiasco of 1976 scared away all other bidders for 1984, and indeed there were only two serious bidders for 1988, Seoul and Nagoya. Ironically, the financial success of the 1984 Games whipped up more bidders for future games, in the hopes the Los Angeles experience of wild financial success could be replicated. As it turns out, not so much.
Remember how Toronto on the bid for the 1996 Olympics?
I know, the 1996 Olympics went to Atlanta. That’s why Toronto won.
Someone in the paper the other day suggested just moving it amongst four or five major cities. That’s not a terrible idea. Pick five major cities that can pull off a gonzo show and has at least some of the facilities from a recent games if at all possible - LA, London, Sydney, Tokyo, Beijing, that’s all you need. Done. Do the same for the Winter Games; Calgary or Vancouver, Salt Lake City, Lillehammer, Nagano, and pick another place, whatever. Each city would know twenty years in advance; within the first cycle they’d have the fundamentals in place and you’d only nee to upgrade as you went.
This didn’t get a lot of coverage at the time and yet it was so shocking. Norway has won more Winter Games medals than any other country - yes, more than the USA, more than the USSR and Russia, more than anyone. Winter sports are their life. Norway saying “no Winter Olympics for us, thanks” is sort of like a Texas town saying “no, we’d rather not have any football games” or Brazil saying “Please, spare us the world class soccer matches” or a Canadian city saying “An NHL team? Hell no, who’d want that?”
Norwegians are insane for the Winter Games - but are so terrified of the costs, they want someone else to host it. Love to party, sure, let’s do it at your place. That speaks volumes.
Norway doesn’t want to spend the money on a gig under the current system. A guaranteed long-term arrangement would be a very different proposition (we don’t even know how different, as there has never been a serious effort to make it).
The thing is that it’s only in recent decades that the costs of hosting have exploded. In the first, say, fifty years of the Modern Olympics, it wasn’t nearly the massive endeavor that it’s grown into. So is it possible to return to that era, or is the genie out of the bottle? And if it’s not possible, then the IOC should explore the idea of permanent host cities. I’ll bet that whatever city agrees to this will also find other international competitions gravitating to it, since the facilities will be tied up for the Olympics only every four years, and even then, only for a few months at most. So in the off years, they could host other events.
I guess maybe Archery doesn’t have high spectator requirements, but really?
And that’s the problem with the Olympic Games. There are so many events and a place has to be found for each one. And even things that a city might have a lot of, won’t pass muster because of the spectator aspect (e.g. Pools).
Excellent post. I’m in the Boston area, and while it would have been awesome to attend an Olympics without the hassle of travelling, the whole thing has gotten so overblown that it overshadows whatever noble sentiments may have once been at its core.
You need a stadium for the track and field events (and they always wind up holding the Opening Ceremonies there, too). I suspect Gillette Stadium, with a playing field sized for American Football, might not be big enough to contain the track, and Harvard Stadium doesn’t have nearly the seating capacity that the Olympics would need.
My idea to lower the cost of the Games is to make them longer so that some of the venues can be repurposed during the event. Between hockey and figure skating, the Winter Olympics need two ice arenas to hold the Games in just two weeks. Stretch it out to three weeks or so and you could have those in the same building. For the Summer Games there are badminton, table tennis, fencing, wrestling, volleyball, team handball, etc. that need to be indoors. If you could work out the schedule to get them to share arenas, that would rein in the costs a bit.
And places like a cycling velodrome do get used again. The athletes in those events don’t just put their equipment away for four years. There are other events in those sports, and they need to be held somewhere, they just don’t get the exposure that the Olympics does.
And the Minute Man Sportsman’s club in Billerica for the shooting events. The commuter line stop they list is over 10 miles away! Yeah, whoever made that list hadn’t ever visited the venues they were proposing.
Gillette Stadium wouldn’t meet the minimum requirements for an Olympic stadium of 80,000 seating, Harvard Stadium is tiny and antiquated. Many of those existing suggested venues aren’t really feasible for the tasks at hand, although if the IOC would scale back what is required for an Olympic venue it would make more sense. The final version of the plan already assumed the Olympic stadium would be a temporary structure that only seated 60,000 (with a waiver from the IOC).
I’m actually OK with the idea that Federal money was spent to finance the SLC Games. Most countries that host the Games do so with government money.
And if you look at the cost of various Games, it’s really the 2008 Beijing Games (at $40 billion or so) and the 2014 Sochi Games (at $50 billion) that were really the outliers. The SLC Games cost about two billion. The 2012 London Games weren’t cheap, at about $10 billion, but nowhere near the cost of the Chinese or Russian efforts.
(I wonder how much of that was corruption, particularly in the case of the Sochi Games. And for the Beijing Games, was a lot of the expense in permanent infrastructure improvements?)
I don’t necessarily have a problem with it, either, especially infrastructure spending that has long term needed benefits for the community. I have a problem with claiming that it “turned a profit” when in fact it was half a billion dollars in the hole if you take away the direct federal contribution, never mind what other tax money may also have been spent on it. That some of the Games in third-world shit-holes were even more obscenely extravagant isn’t really relevant, though it’s a disturbing trend with these events.
On the one hand, the IOC is horribly corrupt. On the other hand, every city and country fucked over by the Games actively campaigned for the ‘opportunity’ to get the Games. It’s not like the IOC said “We all voted, and it’s your turn Brazil, good luck!”
I love the concept that RickJay mentioned, select “olympic” cities, let it rotate among them, and nobody has to go broke.
ISTM that a big part of the problem is the belief that having the olympics in a city creates all sorts of indirect economic activity, which amounts to a return on the tax money invested in it. I myself tend to be very skeptical of this type of argument (as with similar arguments justifying various tax breaks given to attract businesses to a given area). But I think that’s what the spenders are thinking, anyway.
How does that apply to the LA Games which are said to have turned a profit? Are the federal contributions being subtracted there too?