An Atlanta Bid for the 2024 Olympics?

February 20, 2013 13:13 pm

by Ed · 34 comments

The U.S. Olympic Committee invited Atlanta (and 34 other cities) to begin discussing a bid for the 2024 Olympics.

NOT SO FAST says Andrew Young. Young was mayor of Atlanta during the bid process and a leader of the successful 1996 campaign.

Speaking to Atlanta magazine, he said: “In the first place, I don’t feel like going through it again, and I don’t imagine anyone from 1996 will.

“It’s a ten-year commitment.

“We have other things we need to do that are going to command our attention – transportation, water resources. There are a lot of problems we need to take care of.”

Baker February 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Mayor Young my dear man…transportation, water resources? Those are so passe. A new Falcons stadium dummie.

View from Brookhaven February 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm

I think we’d have to change the law to repurpose the hotel/motel tax funds to bribes for the IOC.

Sorry, Arthur.

Andre February 20, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Let’s do it again. It would be such a great rub in the face of Chicago for Atlanta to host a second Olympics when they couldn’t even win the right to host one.

John Vestal February 20, 2013 at 3:27 pm

All those open-air shooting venues for naught.

Noway February 20, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Could we get that paragon of virtue, Bill Campbell, out of the hoosgow to help make it happen again?

Nonchalant February 20, 2013 at 2:55 pm

I’m not sure it would be worth the effort, given that the IOC appears to be on a mission to get rid of traditional Olympic sports like wrestling and put in things one can see in a city park on any given day. And of course, Atlanta is not loved in that rarefied community, is it? I understand our logo did not appear during the London Opening Ceremonies. It might have been an oversight, but my guess is it was not.

Now, ignoring for the moment some of the tackiness of ’96–Izzy and the Bill Campbell-approved flea market feel to some areas—my view is that in America, we might not be corruption free, but we at least think we should not just shrug our shoulders and live with it, that instead man should strive to be better than he is today…..so if the IOC does not like this city–well, no loss in my book. I’m sure they’ll be able to find someone to feed them caviar. That’s the way these things go.

But no reason we should butter their butts.

Andre February 20, 2013 at 3:09 pm

It wasn’t just Atlanta 1996 that was left out of the opening montage of London’s opening ceremonies. Los Angeles 1984 missed the cut too, along with Paris 1900 and Berlin 1936.

I don’t know if any of these snubs were intentional though.

Baker February 20, 2013 at 3:29 pm

I can imagine Berlin 1936 was intentional. But to leave out just 3 others from the whole time? Whats the deal?

Ed, you probably know the answers to this? THoughts?

Nonchalant February 20, 2013 at 3:32 pm

My guess is that if your Opening Ceremonies have a “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” tribute to the National Health Service, the answer is yes, for whatever reason, because that is the kind of person you are.

Political.

But regardless, I can’t say having the words “Higher, Faster, Farther” (or whatever the IOC version is) floating around Atlanta in 2020 or 2024 or 2028 would necessarily be a bad thing.

Andre February 20, 2013 at 3:56 pm

A lot has been said about Atlanta 1996; that we bribed IOC members to vote for us (even though bribery was just the cost of doing business and ACOG was hardly the first bid team to do so); that our Olympics were too corporate; that traffic was a nightmare and mass transit was a joke (I’ll give them that).

Still, compared to other Olympic cities, Atlanta’s games broke even. And, our Olympic venues remain in use more than fifteen years after the last competition took place. That’s saying something, especially when one looks to places like Montreal, where their Olympic stadium just got paid off a few years back; or Athens, where the only competition occurring in their venues is how fast the grass will overgrown former playing fields.

We did a good job in 1996, using very little government funds. There aren’t many Olympic cities who can claim that.

Nonchalant February 20, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Good point–maybe our London friends, being British, don’t like things that work and are efficient. Destroys the charm….

My gut feel is 2028 might be better for a try to conquer Mount Olympus–2024 might be too early, though perhaps not. Perhaps not at all.

Some things would need to be thought about now. We have the problem of a lot of big stadiums downtown but none perhaps suitable to be the main one, esp. for track and field. I doubt Turner Field would be restored to its former glory. We would want to build Arthur’s Taj Mahal, but perhaps not in the way he wished. We would certainly want it downtown. We would want to keep the Dome. The old swimming venues at Tech are totally different now, and I would be against their going back to the old form, so a new facility would be needed for most, if not all, swimming things. Perhaps at AUC or GSU.

Midtown looks 1000% better than them days, as does the area around Centennial. As far as some of the tackiness of last time, perhaps the city would agree to some kind of joint license approval program for vendors, so as to prevent the flea market feel of some areas were said to have. I am less concerned about some of the IOC’s other commercialization complaints, bevause they honestly think taxpayers should pay for desires of elites. Some things never change in Europe. We can always see if any of the European nations are even solvent in 2024/8, and let their complaints take on the weight deserved.

I think the transit thing can be worked out–you just need a unified command center, on-the-scene action officers with wide command authority, and spare capacity, with someone having the ability to knock heads together during the games to make the trains run on time and account for issues, in a way reminescent of military operations.

Noway February 21, 2013 at 8:07 am

It is my understanding that wrestling was cut because The Undertaker was administering too many Tombstone Pile Drivers. They offended the sensibilities of the IOC.

novicegirl February 21, 2013 at 9:40 am

Problem is they’re not keeping up with the times. The Olympics needs to introduce Intergender Wrestling. Jerry Lawler could coach the first USA team.

DeacfromGA February 20, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Forget the Olympics. Go after the World Cup in the new stadium

TheEiger February 20, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Why not both? Rio is having both. I would really like to see the world cup in Atlanta.

novicegirl February 21, 2013 at 9:32 am

The World Cup? Next thing you’ll be asking is to host the International Competitive Ballroom Dancing Championship.

greencracker February 20, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Olympics will have to do because, spoiler alert, Redneck Games are being cancelled for a year. :(

Baker February 20, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Why the Redneck Games getting cancelled?

David Staples February 20, 2013 at 10:35 pm

BTW, the link in Ed’s post is broken. :-)

Buzz Brockway February 20, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Let’s do it! If LA and Lake Placid can host the Olympics twice, why not Atlanta?

The Last Democrat in Georgia February 20, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Good point, Buzz, but otherwise, no comment.

Nonchalant February 21, 2013 at 8:24 am

I agree, and though it may not be the most diplomatic way to say it, if IOC members from, say, Belgium (Belgian Congo) or Spain (Franco) or Germany (obvious) or anywhere else want to say one’s past performance is a permanent bar for now and evermore, hey, that’s a conversation to have.

Every nation, every place, every people in the world has baggage. If late trams and Coke-only venues are one’s idea of a travesty, I feel for you.

The Last Democrat in Georgia February 21, 2013 at 8:38 am

It wasn’t just some of the everyday issues, but the tragic bombing near the end of the games that soured some on the Atlanta games.

novicegirl February 21, 2013 at 9:34 am

Richard Jewell, RIP, was really soured on the the Atlanta games.

Nonchalant February 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Good point, and having had a day to think it over–absent something new in Atlanta in its favor, Atlanta is not getting the games again. It’s not that unique of a city. And I don’t see that new thing happening here, so this is a pointless exercise in speculation.

The Last Democrat in Georgia February 21, 2013 at 7:40 pm

That’s a good point. For Atlanta to be in serious consideration for another Olympic bid we’d have to make some serious reforms to the point that we were exceptional in ground transportation, something that we clearly are not at the moment.

xdog February 22, 2013 at 9:58 am

The Olympics are often reserved for newer cities, cities on the make. London was an aberration in that respect but Rio, Beijing, Athens (special case), Sydney, Atlanta, Barcelona, Seoul all fell in the hungry and rising fast category. Atlanta doesn’t fit that mold anymore.

The Last Democrat in Georgia February 21, 2013 at 8:41 am

With the increasingly massive debts that host governments are racking up, the prospect of hosting the games may not necessarily be as hot in the future for national and municipal governments.

Andre February 21, 2013 at 9:07 am

ACOG demonstrated effectively that massive government spending isn’t needed to stage a successful games though.

From the Wikipedia article on the Atlanta Olympics:

“The 1996 Olympics followed the financial model established by the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The cost to stage the Games was US$1.8 billion. U.S. Government funds were used for security, and around $500 Million of taxpayer money was used on the physical infrastructure including streetscaping, road improvements, Centennial Olympic Park, expansion of airport, improvements in public transportation, and redevelopment of public housing projects but neither paid for the actual Games and the new Venues themselves. To pay for the games, Atlanta relied on commercial sponsorship and ticket sales, resulting in a profit of $10 million.”

It amazes me that more Olympic host cities don’t follow the L.A./Atlanta model.

The Last Democrat in Georgia February 21, 2013 at 10:54 am

That is a really good question why more Olympic host cities don’t follow that model.

David Staples February 22, 2013 at 10:30 am

I wouldn’t mind seeing the Olympics come back to Atlanta. We’ve still got the World’s busiest airport. And it’s not like MARTA has decreased it’s footprint train wise. In fact, according to Wikipedia, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, and North Springs all opened in 2000 (post Olympics).

We’ve also added Phillips Arena since then, and perhaps by the time 2024 or 2028 rolls around Arthur Blank will have gotten his retractable roof stadium as well. Let’s not forget about the Beltline. I would think it’s possible we could see a light rail setup along the Beltline by then as well. We’re still a world class metropolitan area, even if we don’t have perhaps the level of transit that some of the more dense cities around the world have.

The Last Democrat in Georgia February 22, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Excellent points, Mr. Staples. Though I think that it is highly-likely that Atlanta will one day have the level of transit that is expected of a world-class city as the metro area is still very much in transition and is far from being a finished commodity.

Harry February 22, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Andrew Young is right.

saltycracker February 26, 2013 at 10:26 am

Didn’t see the observation that the 1996 Olympics was a pipe dream of a bunch of visionaries led by Billy Payne – they ran a tight ship – based on the LA model – few gave it a chance agai st Greece. The political/connected bunch didn’t really jump in until to late to make it a financial windfall for a few and a disaster for the masses. They did get a toe in rewarding flea market spots.
They will not let that opportunity slip by again.

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