Could Dallas Host the Olympics?

With Dallas (North Texas) hosting the Super Bowl, the Final Four, the NBA All-Star Game, College Football’s National Championship, is there any possibility that we will host the Olympics? CF

dallas olympics

Yes there is, but only if the people of Dallas get behind the idea. See Dallas’s people are our best assets. You know the Final Four agreed to come to Dallas before AT&T Stadium was even built. We couldn’t take them on a tour of the stadium and show them all the bells and whistles, we had to sell them on the idea of the stadium and what a Final Four in North Texas would be. It’s only one of many examples (more have been provided my popular request here) of why and how the people of this great community have turned a simple stretch of prairie into the home of 7 million people. That’s more than the metro areas of Athens, Berlin, Johannesburg, Barcelona, Munich, and Rome. So if we want the Olympics, we just need to muster our collective to landing them.

There’s a certain drive in the people of Dallas, a certain civic boosterism that has us to where we are today. Columnist 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.” That belief as lead us to build airports the size of Long Island, the largest Fine Arts district in the world, to develop and perfect our own cuisine (Tex-Mex) and even make scientific breakthroughs (integrated circuit). We, as a town and a region, succeed where others fail because we don’t rely on scenic beauty, natural resources or strategic location for our success. We rely on ourselves. When it comes to the Olympics, it’s just a matter of deciding to pursue them. Of deciding to marshal the best assets of this city for the purposes of hosting the greatest spectacle of all of sports.

85

Openning Ceremony directed by Wes Anderson, starring the Wilson brothers and featuring Willie Nelson

Should we want Olympics? Why the hell not? Anyone who was out and about in North Texas for the Final Four could feel something special in the air. A certain energy that only happens when some of the best athletes in the country live out their hopes and dreams in front of 100,000 of the most dedicated and enthusiastic fans. Now take that energy, bottle it up for 4 years, and then multiply it 50 fold. The Final Four is the pinnacle of one sport for one country that occurs once a year. The Olympics are the pinnacle of several dozen sports for several hundred countries that happens only once every four years. If you thought the fun./Springsteen show was amazing (and many did) the Olympics would replicate three different shows of the same quality each night for two straight weeks. All of us should want to host the Olympics. We should want to witness the pageantry of the games, the grace of the athletics, and the spectacle of the ceremonies. We have civic mottos telling us to “Think Big,” and aspirations to be a world class city. Well, there is no bigger event than the Olympics, no bigger world class stage. We should want to host the Olympics, simply put, because they are the Olympics.

2012 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony

Be proud.

Now I know some of you may be jumping up and down or breezing through everything above in search of an economic viability argument for hosting the games. Fine go here for a thousand words on the topic. But those who don’t have the time, here’s the back of the envelope math.

It’s not this complicated

imagesCA03DFPL

More like this

imagesCAHRYMGY

 

Dallas will end up spending less on venues than other cities. We can leverage some of the costs for ancillary (but important) regional goals, and ultimately benefit from a huge amount of increase spending from tourists that will help offset the operational costs of the Olympics. In practical examples, we’ve already built AT&T stadium, the Olympics Village can help revitalize South Dallas, and the lack of tourists in Dallas over the period when the Olympics happen means a large influx of spending that can help to pay drivers, ushers, or cops that we pay to help run the Olympics (many of whom would be local).

Plenty of these signs during the Olympics

untitled

The answer to whether there is a possibility that Dallas could host the Olympics is that Dallas and North Texas has the potential to host the Olympics. Once we realize that potential then the possibility of the Olympics turns into a reality.

imagesCA8JYMBM

Closing Ceremonies by Robert Rodriguez

 

Advertisements

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.

grow south

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.

untitled

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.

welcome

  • 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.

London_2012_train

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

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.

state-fair-ticket

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.

imagesCAPKF352

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.

cuban

He believed in his golden destiny, no pun intended