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