Winter Olympics budget nearly $2 billion!
December 21, 2001 11:14 PM   Subscribe

Winter Olympics budget nearly $2 billion! Sydney's 2000 Summer Games cost $1.97 billion, The Atlanta Games in 1996 cost $605 million, while the Summer Games in Los Angeles in 1984 cost $75 million. Congress got a wakeup call today for just how expensive it is to host the Olympics.A new government analysis shows the federal tab for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City will cost taxpayers about $1.4 billion. “How many important public safety projects and other programs in other cities were postponed or canceled so that these cities could put on an Olympics?” asked Senator John McCain. Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt spoke of the games as a chance to bring the world together. "The world needs events like this," he said. "Good has always been the target of evil, but this is an event of such importance that we can transcend the events of September 11th."
posted by Mack Twain (16 comments total)
I'm pretty sure we could eliminate homelessness with 1.4 billion. Ummm, rent every single homeless person an apartment for life, for starters. Silly idea for a silly sum of wasted money.
posted by fleener at 11:44 PM on December 21, 2001

I'm with McCain on this one. did I just say that?
posted by mcsweetie at 12:13 AM on December 22, 2001

I know how you feel McSweetie. I have to pinch myself every time I catch myself agreeing with McCain, but once again he's on the money. Dammit. Does this mean I'm no longer a liberal, or is McCain just a wolf in sheep's clothing?

I for one am still glad my hometown of Dallas just recently lost the bid for the summer 2012 Olympics. We got beat out by Houston and New York. I hear they're going to try again for a later year. There's better and less expensive ways to keep a city on the map. We could just get another cheesy tv series named after us.

The world has enough events 'like this' already. They could just throw another Garth Brooks concert. * America really can transcend the events of September 11th without such a pricetag. I mean did Atlanta really get their money's worth from all that fuss? Does anyone remember that obnoxious blue thing they had for a mascot? Did the Olympics help their tourist trade in the long run? Did they come out of it in the black?

Who are these people supporting the Olympics anyway? Who watches this stuff? Do people actually watch these functions? This shows how much I am out of touch with the rest of the world. I'd rather be tied to a chair and forced to watch reruns of Dukes of Hazzard or Starsky & Hutch than be bothered with yet another Olympics. I preferred when it was once every four years. Now the Olympics feel too much like a PBS pledge drive. Just when you've forgotten about it, they start doing it again.

* I'm kidding of course. As usual. However I fear if I don't ammend that statement with a 'just kidding,' I'm sure this thread would turn into a love/hate Garth thing so let's just nip that in the bud right now.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:19 AM on December 22, 2001

Just now coming home after driving by five cops cars stopped at the corner of Haight and Stanyan, and seeing a group of men getting arrested for something like selling drugs or vagrancy (the real crimes that are bringing this country to its knees), reminds me just how FUCKING STUPID the Olympic Games really are.
posted by Down10 at 1:11 AM on December 22, 2001

fleener? Yes, it is a silly idea. Your assignment: Read Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson. Report back to MeFi when finished.

But in the meantime, I'll help you with this problem in the law of unintended consequences. If you used the money to buy 'every' homeless person an apartment for life, what would be the consequences?

1. A huge increase in homelessness, because homelessness now comes with a generous entitlement.

2. Homeless people continuing to live on the street and renting out their apartments to others for money to buy alcohol and drugs.

When you subsidize something, you encourage it. Case in point: unemployment. European unemployment benefits are much more generous than those in the US, and as a result, countries like France run double-digit unemployment rates even in good economic times. If you subsidize homelessness, what are you going to get? More homelessness.

Homelessness is a symptom, not a disease. Homeless people today are heavily young males with alcohol or drug dependance problems, and mental illness. Getting them homes won't solve the underlying problem that caused them to lose their home to begin with, and they'll just lose the next one you give them.

BTW, I put quotes around that 'every' above, because assuming apartment rent of around US$600 a month for 40 years, the US$1.4 billion would cover fewer than 5000 people. There are a lot more homeless than that.

Yes, that seems to me a lot for the Olympics, which strikes me as a questionable way to increase international goodwill and understanding. But if you want to fight homelessness with it, please use it for research on drug and alcohol treatment (which currently fails a lot of the time), schizophrenia, or a political campaign to get the poor schizophrenics off the streets and back into hospitals.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 1:32 AM on December 22, 2001

Just to be accurate (ZachsMind) there are actually four cities still being considered for the U.S. Bid City of the 2012 Olympic Games. They are Houston, New York, San Francisco and Washington. There were originally eight. In October of this year they voted to reduce the candidate list to its current four, and eliminated Cincinnati, Dallas, Los Angeles and Tampa. The U.S. candidate city will be chosen by the USOC in October 2002. The IOC will select the host city in September 2005.
posted by brian at 2:44 AM on December 22, 2001

The thing that gets me is that everything these days is an excuse to "bring people together" after what happened on September 11th.
posted by GirlFriday at 5:34 AM on December 22, 2001

"Good has always been the target of evil..."

That's just soooooo true! I was thinking the exact same thing myself the other day.
posted by dlewis at 6:12 AM on December 22, 2001

just for grins, i ran a few numbers for the masses. assumptions: $1.4B invested in a sinking fund, term 40 years (480 months), interest rate 3.5% (figuring gov't bonds or some such thing), and 12 payments per year. given these assumptions, then the monthly amount that could be withdrawn from such an account is $5.4M.

if an apartment can be rented for $300/month, then one could house 18,078 individuals or groups of individuals. i haven't seen any statistics on the number of homeless folks in the US, but this number strikes me as low. it might house the homeless in a medium-sized city.

here's a link with some data. some additional statistics are presented here. these (very quick hunt) estimates suggest maybe about 500,000 homeless individuals at any given point in time (in the US).

i'm no expert, but it looks like the $1.4B wouldn't help but about 4% of the number of homeless people in the US. that's not much help.

what this does, however, is demonstrate the magnitude of the problem, which is something i hadn't thought much about before. therefore, thanks for the thread and making me think.
posted by ruminator at 8:26 AM on December 22, 2001

Those are some good ruminations, ruminator.
posted by euphorb at 11:30 AM on December 22, 2001

As someone who lives in the area and will be directly affected by the Olympics, I'll offer my $0.02.

The story linked mentions:

""We expect to break even," said Mitt Romney, president of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee.

That will happen largely because the largess of television, which will pay some $442 million for the right to broadcast the games. And Salt Lake City organizers sold the games well, bringing in another $553 million in sponsor money before the national economy took a nosedive."

So there's a billion dollars that was paid for by the private sector. Clearly they feel that their association with the games will increase their bottom line in some fashion, or they wouldn't have ponied up that kind of money. No one twisted Coca-Cola's arm to kick in a hundred million, or whatever it is they're paying to be the "official soft drink of the Winter Olympics".

As far as the billion or so in highway/light rail construction goes, that money was already appropriated. The Olympics just moved the deadline up a bit, which in the end saves the taxpayers money anyway, since we all know how budgets tend to inflate as the projects drag on and on over multi-year timeframes. The one billion could easily have doubled or tripled if the highway renovations had been spaced out over ten or twelve years.

That all being said, am I glad the Olympics are coming here? Hell no! I voted against hosting them, and I'd just as soon they went away. For seventeen days in February, I'm going to have to add two hours to my commute, put up with armed security guards at the entrance to my building checking every parcel I may bring in, and dammit, they're fencing off my smoking area with chain-link and razor wire. All this for events that I don't care to see, at prices I couldn't afford even if I wanted to go, so Salt Lake City can try and present itself as a modern, cosmopolitan, world-class city when it's really not much more than a backwards-ass community of teetotallers in funny underwear who want to force everyone else to adhere to their moral code.

Whew! Sorry I went off there, but I feel much better now.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:16 PM on December 22, 2001

Sounds awful, Crash. This happens to my town every summer, for just a few days, when it gets taken over by a big art fair. Most people I know try to go out of town if possible.
posted by rodii at 2:50 PM on December 22, 2001

my bitter 2 cents....

I don't consider it "agreeing" with McCain or any other member of the two political companies that run this country makes perfect sense to be outraged at this 2 billion dollar bill- no matter how much is it's root, it is still just entertainment...yes, housing the homeless only perpetuates and encourages...but, hey, it won't hurt to initiate services and training programs for the wait- let's start at the root- PUT THE 2 BILLION INTO EDUCATION!!!!!! Screw the Olympics...ask a poor kid in a drug riddled ghetto (like we have here in Baltimore) what he thinks about the friggin' luge or the millions spent on the ad company to come up with the stupid Olympic mascot....he'll tell you he wants to live in a safe neighborhood, get an education, and have something to eat...(yes- these children have the same dreams as your spoiled rotten children, Mr. Policy Maker)...this issue underlines a key problem with our country- priorites...let's take care of our problems at home, F the rest of the world and F entertainment...we are starting to mirror the Roman Empire, dangerously so...
posted by ayukna at 6:31 PM on December 22, 2001

Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt needs events like this, not Utah.

Ask any of the taxpayers of New South Wales, who are still paying for the ridiculous Sydney Olympic pageantry, if it was worth it. By the time the bills come in, the original perpetrators have moved on. Hulking, rusting stadia bear mute witness to their delusions of grandeur.

Health, education and welfare all suffer so a few idiots can enjoy the limelight for two weeks.
posted by emf at 8:50 PM on December 22, 2001

Mack Twain writes in part
Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt spoke of the games as a chance to bring the world together. "The world needs events like this," he said. "Good has always been the target of evil, but this is an event of such importance that we can transcend the events of September 11th." If Mike had just replaced "world" with "rich" he would be much closer to the truth. The commercialization of this event is incredible, maps of the city leave off the names of non-sponsoring companies, to mention just one of many absurdities.
posted by onegoodmove at 12:45 AM on December 23, 2001

"...maps of the city leave off the names of non-sponsoring companies..."


That's been all over the local news for a while now. I think it's ridiculous. Just because Joe Blow's Cafe didn't contribute to the Olympics is hardly reason to pretend his business doesn't even exist.


Yet another reason I'm happy to have voted against hosting the games.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:44 PM on December 23, 2001

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