An Agrument for the Olympics in Dallas

Sure everyone wants to host the Olympics theoretically, but is it economical feasible to host them? The nay-sayer’s argument’s most common refrain is “Olympics, no way, costs too much.” But often there’s little discussion beyond the “they cost too much” refrain. Someone cites a buzzfeed article that says the Olympics costs London 50 billion, or that Russia spent 100 billion and that’s that. But when you really take a look at that argument in reference to Dallas it doesn’t hold as much water has initially they would lead you to believe. In fact an opposing view comes to light.

  • First, the Olympic athletic venues wouldn’t costs us that much because we’ve already built so many of them. We don’t have to build a billion Olympic Stadium or other minor facilities because we’ve already built them. When you start to add up our professional sports venues, our minor league venues, our collegiate facilities, our high school facilities; it doesn’t take very long to realize the assets we already have. Assets that other cities don’t have. I mean how many cities out there have half a dozen high school stadiums that seat 15-20,000?

cotton bowlThe Cotton Bowl is largest stadium in the Americas that’s not a team’s home stadium

  • Leverage athlete housing and other supportive infrastructure costs in areas of the region that need revitalization or would requirement government investment over time. They did it in London, and the Dallas Morning News already suggested that the Fair Park and South Dallas could benefit greatly from revitalization efforts caused by Olympic facilities. Or perhaps downtown Dallas with its millions of square feet of un-used mid-century office buildings. Funding for athlete housing could be leverage to retrofit those buildings and ultimately leave them in modifiable live-work-retail-loft space that would be more favorable to the market.

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Helping South Dallas statler hiton

And Downtwon

  • The operational costs of the Olympics can be used to generate local jobs were the money tends to have large multiplier effects. Many of those who are against hosting the Olympics concede the above two points, but they claim that the operational costs of the Olympics are so great that Dallas should not pursue them. The costs; that includes money for security, for event staff, for drivers and more; will be high. And if we hired a bunch of ushers, cooks, drivers and security guards from out of town, who saved all their money and ultimately went back home after the Olympics were over, then the naysayers would be right. But we aren’t’. If we hire locals, then we’re creating thousands or tens of thousands of jobs for the people of DFW. And money in local’s hands tends to get spent or reinvested locally a second or third time creating a multiplying effect of each dollar. Now where does that money initially come from, well speaking of.

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Local Jobs Abound

  • Operational and other costs can be partially recouped by the increased spending of tourists brought by the Olympics. The Olympics will bring tourists to Dallas, tourist that wouldn’t normally be in Dallas. They will spend money here, money that would not normally be spent here. That increase in spending will help to pay for the costs. And before you point out that this didn’t work out so great for Athens, I’d like to remind you that Athens is a popular tourists destination in the summer for Ivy League trust fund kids, European Royalty and African Despots regardless of whether or not the Olympics are in town. Dallas in the summer is not a top tourist spot. The increase spending from tourists in Dallas will be far far greater.

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  • Lastly, it’s not all about the costs. Looking at the above four paragraphs from a results point of view, you’d see all the benefits Dallas receives from the Olympics. We would have built or more likely upgraded a number of world class athletic venues. We would have begun the process of revitalizing certain areas. We would have created thousands of jobs, and hundreds of millions or perhaps several billion in economic activity locally. Taking it further, with all those important decisions makers in town, think of the connections to made, deals to be hashed out, and contracts to be inked. And for you non-profits out there, think of the all the fund-raising galas to be thrown or big donations to be courted. I could go on and on about all the benefits, but I’m fairly confident in saying that pretty much everyone from poorest school children, to the wealthiest billionaires will benefit in some way if the Olympics come to Dallas.

In short the argument is that, it won’t costs as much as people say, we can leverage some of that money to help do other things in Dallas, much of the money will go into the hands of locals and come from the wallets of tourists, and the many benefits of the Olympics ultimately outweigh the costs.

I know that some of you out there can’t wait to point out the one problem unaddressed in this argument so far, mass transit. I saved that for the last because I believe that it best sums up the whole argument. If we pursue the Olympics, and the Olympic Committee tells us the only thing getting in the way of the Olympic is that we need an expanded and intensified mass transit system, well our history shows that we’ll build it. If we’re truly determined to host the Olympics, and will do anything to host them, then we’ll build the transit system. There are recent local examples like the DCTA or the Oak Cliff Street Car where we built rail lines. And there are initiative proposals to fund and build others. So it’s possible, we just need to political capital to see that it’s accomplished. And speaking of capital yes, it will cost a lot of money to build the rail line(s). But we’ll be leveraging those costs with the costs of Olympics. In simple terms if the line will costs 100 dollars to build, and we have access to 10 dollars in some types of grants or private funding that won’t be available unless the Olympics came to town, well then it’s actually cheaper to build the rail line with the Olympics. The rail line(s) also creates a number of jobs, and we’re left with the benefits of having an expanded and intensified transit system after the Olympics are over.

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Russia built a rail line for the Winter Olympics.  Dallas surely could do the same.

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Examples of Dallas Following its “Golden Destiny”

A.C. Green once wrote that Dallas has been “led since birth by a citizenry that believed a golden destiny was assigned the place where they lived, taking its ambitions seriously whether anyone else did or not.” Below are a few of those examples

Historically, Dallas has thrived not because of nature or providence, but by the collective will of its citizens. It goes back to our founding. Dallas wasn’t founded by a government as a natural fort, or by some company as a mining camp, nor did merchants flock to our town’s natural harbor or port, and farmers didn’t congregate here because of our great climate or soil. No we were founded by one man. One singular solitude man, who was so determined to build a great city that it literally drove him mad. His vision, determination, and ambition helped Dallas get off the ground and begin its growth.

63e3828fd7a0b6a41bf94110_LThe man on the left John Neely Bryan founded Dallas

It doesn’t stop with him though. Early settlers in the 1840’s (all twenty of them) were so convinced that Dallas was a great community that they persuaded the state (technically the Republic at the time) to build the very first state highway through our tiny town. Several decades later in the 1870s, town fathers bribed one railroad to run its north/south line through Dallas, and then they tricked another railroad to run its east/west line through the town. And by tricked, I mean something straight out of Blazing Saddles, or to use an up to date reference, we “Frank Underwooded” them a la House of Cards to come to Dallas. As a result of the junction of those two railroads, Dallas became a hub for commerce and a 19th century center for trade.

There’s also the story of the aviation firm that was planning on moving to Dallas from Connecticut in the 1950’s, but discovered at the last minute that the runways at Love Field were too short. When they called mayor R.L. Thornton to tell him the bad news, he told them “…hold on a minute let me call you right back.” He called back later that day to let them know that construction had just started on lengthening the runways at Love, and that it would be finished within the month. What Dallas wants, we get.

Perhaps the best example for the purposes of the Olympics comes from another story involving Mayor R. L. Thornton and Dallas’ bid to host a prestigious event. In the early 1930’s, the state of Texas was debating which city would host the states’ centennial celebration which was to coincide with a World’s Fair of such. The celebration would be a large and elaborate event, a spectacle spanning several weeks, in which people predicted would bring in millions of visitors, create thousands of jobs, and generating millions in the local economy.   When the state was deciding where to hold it (Austin as the state capital had been taken of out of contention), there were two clear favorites. San Antonio, with its cultural and historical significance (i.e. the freakin’ Alamo, was one favorite). As was Houston, the largest city in Texas, a port city (very important in the 1930’s) and the closest big city to the battlefield of the final decisive victory in the War for Texas Independence. Dallas was in the running but considered an afterthought, as we lacked the cultural and historical depth of San Antonio, or the size and accessibility of Houston.

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Notice this doesn’t say Houston or San Antonio

 Funny thing happened though. Dallas won the bid. How? It was a combination of our package of incentives, our salesmanship, and our politicking. We offered more in our bid, more land to host the celebration, more building for the states’ use, and more money to help cover the operational costs. We also sold the s*** out of our bid. Dallas if nothing is a town with some of the best salesmen. We presented such a vision of what the celebration would look like that in the end it was more appealing than the other cities. Then ultimately, we also won the politicking game. I mentioned early that Dallas “Frank Underwooded” a railroad to come to Dallas, R.L. Thornton wasn’t exactly Frank Underwood, he was more like LBJ but without the presidential ambitions. Thornton, along with civic and business leaders, were so determined to win the bid that they shook more hands, slapped more backs, and made the deals that helped win Dallas the host privileges. In short we out sold, outbid and out worked the other cities. People in Houston are still bitter about Dallas’ tactics and the way things went down.

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Okay not really

For a more modern day example, take Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks. Cuban is the personification of a Dallasite. He bought what was literally the worst team in the NBA. A laughing stock of a franchise that hadn’t had a winning seasons in a decade. But he was convinced that he could build a championship team. He went about building a roster centered around an awkward 7-foot jump shooting German. He surrounded that German with cast-offs, rejects from other teams, players past their so-called primes. The majority of the NBA didn’t take his team seriously. No one thought they could win. They worked their way through the playoffs with each successive win seemingly more improbable than the last to the majority of sports writers. In the NBA finals they came up against a team that every odds maker in the country labeled as a favorite. The Mavericks ran into a team that had been built with the high priced free agents to win back-to-back-to-back-to-back titles. No one thought the Maverick’s group of “no-names, has beens, and never weres,” could win. That is except Cuban, his coaches, and players. I’ll go back to that quote from A.C. Green, the one about Dallas’s people believing in some grand golden destiny for their city, and taking it seriously as others didn’t. Cuban believed in that golden destiny for his team, whether anyone took his beliefs seriously or not. As it turns out they should have. The Mavericks won.

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He believed in his golden destiny, no pun intended

 

Top Ten Historical Places in Dallas you might not know about

Where are all the big historical places in Dallas – CF

Dallas has no shortage of historical places.  There are over a hundred places list on the National Historical Registry, and more than three hundred places have those historical markers from the state.

Like this one

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And instead of listing the most popular ones, or the best known ones, I’ve listed ten that for various reasons are noteworthy but generally not well known.

The Very First Hilton Hotel – Before Hilton hotels became a name brand, before Paris Hilton became Paris Hilton, even before the founder of Hilton Hotels was portrayed by Chelcie Rose in Mad Men, Conrad Hilton was a small time hotel operator.  His very first hotel to bear his name was the 14 story tall Hilton Hotel in Dallas.  Seen here below shortly after opening.

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Built in 1925 for 1.3 million dollars, Hilton also had his personal office in the building.  Currently it operates as the Hotel Indigo, a chic boutique hotel.

Enjoy Conrad’s first beauty at ­­­­Main Street and S. Harwood Street in Downtown

The First Highway in Texas – Chances are you’ve run by the historical marker for the very first highway in Texas.  Or biked by it maybe.  The first highway in the state was built back when Texas was a republic 170 years ago (yes they had highways before cars).  It ran roughly from Texarkana to Dallas and the road that most closely mirrors its path in present day Dallas is highway 78 or Garland Road.  As such the historical marker is located at the southern end of White Rock Lake above the spillway, right about at the damn.

If this is your view of the lake, turn around and walk up the hill, the marker will be on your left.

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Walk down the same path that the first Texans did at the intersection of San Raphael and Garland in East Dallas.

Sons of HermannThe Sons of Hermann Hall is a 100 year old fraternal hall.  A building that harkins back to an older era and it has more then a few claims to fame.

Known more commonly as “Sons”

sons of hermannFor one, it’s the oldest wood frame two story commercial building in the City.  Okay not impressed, well they filmed part of Robocop there and Kelly Clarkson’s American Idol auditions were there.  Still not, okay, well Pat Green played there, so did Townes Van Zandt, the Dixie Chicks, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Todd Snider and more.  It also happens to be the first spot in Dallas where Robert Earl Keen played, Wlico too.  And that little old band from Dallas, the Old 97’s, played their very first gig at Sons.  If you’re still unimpressed by all that, well it’s haunted too, so there.

Go see ghosts and the next big alt-country band before they get big at 3414 Elm Street in Deep Elbum.

Freedmen’s cemetery – Following the emancipation, small communities of freed slaves began to form on the outskirts of southern cities called Freedmen’s towns.  The largest community in Dallas was located just north of downtown and it thrived for many years.  Known as Freedmen’s Town North Dallas, and later “State and Thomas,”  there isn’t much left of it nowadays.  If you couldn’t tell by the State and Thomas name, the area went through a urban renewal/gentrification period, it’s most commonly referred to today as “Uptown.”  But the Cemetery’s still there, along with a nice memorial to the community.

Pay your respects to generations of African Americans at Central Expy & Calvary Drive in Uptown.

At Eastern Entrance to the Cemetery stands this memorial.

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Lee Park – Lee Park’s an interesting Park with an interesting history.  It’s one of the oldest in Dallas (1909).  President Roosevelt (FDR) dedicated the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee back in 1936 on the Park’s grounds.  There’s even a replicate of General Lee’s home in the Park called Arlington Hall that was built around the same time.  Now fast forward three decades to when Oaklawn had become the happening place for hippies and the counter culture.  In April of 1970, the Park was the scene for the infamous “Lee Park Massacre.”  It wasn’t a massacre just a small hippie riot of 3 or 4 thousand hippies when the police arrested a few kids for swimming in Trutle Creek.  And now fast forward to today where the Park is the scene for the magnificent LGBT community staple, the Lee Park Easter Hat Derby.  Truly one of Dallas’s most unique and wonderful scenes.

The three stages of Lee Park

Confederate

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Hippie

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LGBT

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Go be a Fabulous hat wearing Confederate hippie at 3333 Turtle Creek Blvd in Uptown.

Historic West End Buildings – I’m only picking one of the historic building in the West End to point out.  I’m just going to quote from the historical Marker and let me know when something stops you down.  ‘Constructed in 1909, this building was first occupied in 1910 by the Hobson Electric company. The warehouse was next leased to the Maroney Hardware Company, which was bought in 1926 by Rufus W. Higginbotham”…Rufus W. Higginbotham, quite a name.

I know you’re thinking in your head that this is Rufus W. Higginbotham…but it’s not

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This is Rufus, he was much sweeter, but still very Old World-y

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Not to make light of of the name, but if you’re going to checking out a historic buildings in the West End, might as well have it be this one, seen below

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Enjoy Higginsbothaming at 1701 Market St. in the West End.

Buckner Childern’s home and cabin – Buckner is more than just a road. Buckner was a caring Baptist and earlier settler of Dallas.  He has two large contributions to Dallas history.  First, he started a children’s home for orphans and abandoned children.  Which was something of a problem in the early frontier days, by the turn of the century it was helping 500 childern a year.

Buckner’s Charter for a Childern’s home from the 19th century

buckner_application_effieSecond, Buckner and his family watched over Dallas history.  They saved John Neely Bryan’s cabin, the first house, nay the first structure in Dallas.  For years he kept it in the basement of the Buckner Orphanage, and when it was recreated for the World’s Fair in 1936 in Dallas, the City used the remnants of the cabin as a model.

Be reminded of Dallas’s charity and early cabins at 5200 S. Buckner Blvd in Southeastern Dallas.

W. Lee O’Daniel – Quick name the only person in history to defeat President Lyndon Johnson (LBJ) in an election.  Need a hint, he was also the inspiration for Governor Pappy O’Daniels  in the Coen Brother’s movie “O’ Brother Where Art Thou”  Yeah that guy, W. Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel.   O’Daniels was a radio personality in the 30’s with a catch phrase of “pass the biscuits, Pappy.”   Which come to think of it, is a pretty awesome catch phrase.  He ended up running for and being elected as governor of Texas and then ran for the US senate beating LBJ and serving one term.   He retired to Dallas and founded an insurance agency.

Fake Pappy Signing

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Real Pappy Signing

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Share a biscuit with Pappy at Cedar Springs and Oaklawn (the Triangle) in Uptown.

The Davis Building – There are plenty of historical building in downtown, from the Kirby building, to Union Station, to the old City Hall. And just like with the Higginbothaming Building I’m only going to point out one.  So why point out this building, well there’s the wonderful cupola up top and the history with the Republic National Bank.

The cupola as seen at night on the Davis Building.

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But really it’s the 1991 TV movie “Touch and Die” starring Martin Sheen that was filmed at the Davis Building means that its making this list.  It also stars his daughter, I think.    From the imdb summary “Magenta getting involved with a combination US Presidential Campaign and plutonium smuggling ring and almost ending up dying from radiation poisoning in the process.”  Made for TV movie about plutonium smuggling in 1991, I’m sure it’s awesome.

See where Martin and his daughter made a movie at 1309 Main St. in Downtwon

Anyone of Dallas 57 historic cemeteries – This might be cheating a little bit, but Dallas has some 57 different historical cemeteries.  That’s one per each 15 square miles.  There’s probably one your neighborhood or the neighborhood just over. Other then the Freedmen’s cemetery I mentioned earlier, there’s the French Utopian settlers cemetery from 1850, the migrate workers cemetery from the great Trinity Farm, cemeteries for settlers from New York, Tennessee, and the large Jewish cemetery.  There’s even one cemetery for the Pioneers of Dallas, that’s actually a cemetery created to combine several older cemeteries that had to be moved.  As a last note, I’d point out that these 57 cemeteries doesn’t even include the cemetery where Mickey Mantle is buried here in Dallas.

Pay your respects to men and women how helped create Dallas at some little cemetery likely located around the corner from you.