Let Me Sum Up
I feel like I need to be upfront about the fact this column is going to borrow liberally from a Twitter conversation I had yesterday with the great Patrick Kennedy (@WalkableDFW) and links he provided. Sorry for anyone who already followed along there, but I think it’s important we don’t get too far down this road before we ask ourselves, “Why are we taking this journey again?”
Your background reading: The Dallas Morning News last year told you that a local committee was exploring making making another run at the Olympics. Last week, USA Today said 35 U.S. cities were sent a letter by the USOC to gauge interest in the 2024 bid.
Then, an editorial in the DMN threw its cautious support behind a Dallas bid, suggesting that, despite the high cost and risks of a long-shot bid, it could be worthwhile — that it could even lead to transformative redevelopment in southern Dallas.
The idea that you need an Olympics for urban development is not only absurd, it’s counter to the forces that allow for sustained, organic development.
[Screeching sound of automobile brakes locking up as car slides across pavement.]
Several problems with this, and not a lot of space to deal with them, so let’s get to it: First, the editorial says Dallas could even partner with Houston on the plan. Jason Heid over at FrontBurner neatly lays out why that won’t happen. I can’t see Houston’s two middle fingers from here, but I can sense them, defiantly waving in the humid air.
Second, the summer games are most-often staged in the summer, running well into August. The average temperature in Dallas this past August was 93.6 degrees. August saw a high of 107 degrees. This information is available on the Internet. I think that’s a problem.
Next, read the Dallas 2024 pitch (found at a website URL that hasn’t been updated from its 2020 origins). The thrust is that this would be a very different bid than the effort to win the 2012 games. That effort launched in 2001, before many Olympic-worthy venues were built, before DART had matured, and before core-city growth had revitalized key neighborhoods near the city’s center. The idea is we need much less infrastructure building; we just need a few touch-ups.
Now, why has all that development occurred? Quite possibly because we lost the last Olympic bid. There’s a great study done by NYU in 2011 titled “How New York City Won the Olympics.” Its premise is that, because the infrastructure improvements pitched in its failed Olympic 2012 bid were made anyway, the city’s urban development flourished. What else helped? That New York City didn’t have to worry about the normal myopic, money-draining influence of staging an Olympics. The city won by losing.
I would argue Dallas was somewhat in the same boat. The idea that you need an Olympics for urban development is not only absurd, it’s counter to the forces that allow for sustained, organic development.
That doesn’t even mention that the money spent on hosting the Olympics is increasingly insane, and that there are many studies that show cities do not benefit long term from hosting. (London’s final tally will be somewhere between $11 billion and $24 billion pounds — up to 10 times its early cost projections.)
That doesn’t mean there can’t be positive outcomes from winning an Olympic bid, but they don’t fit into the DMN’s bucket list. This plan focuses on Fair Park, and the improvements it suggests are worthwhile whether we get a bid or not. So doing this only makes sense if we understand the games will be a money-loser, we are okay with that, and we decide to renovate the art deco treasure of Fair Park no matter the bid outcome.
It probably won’t be win-win, but win-lose is better than lose-lose.
There is all sorts of coverage of this on CM today, but I came away from this season of The Bachelor thinking two decent, not-stupid people fell in love. May have even gotten a little dusty in Casa de Celeste last night. Call me a sucker.
Am I the only one sick of folks acting like George P. Bush is the GOP savior? Before Bush the Youngest has even decided which public office he’s going to infiltrate? No? Just me?
Is this why he didn't call me yesterday, like he was supposed to?
El alcalde de Dallas @mike_rawlingsesta en el estudio listo para retarte a ti y a nosotros de que se trata escucha 824am mega1075— Edgar Shoboy Sotelo (@elshoboy) March 12, 2013