Looks like
February 14, 2002 9:26 AM   Subscribe

Looks like the Olympics isn't the boon to business Salt Lake City expected it to be. It might be convenient to blame the terror scare, but the same thing happened to Atlanta a while back. Businesses hired extra workers and spent money to prepare for crowds that never showed. Is all the money to be made taken in through corporate sponsorship deals and television? How have other cities fared financially during and after past Olympics?
posted by troybob (19 comments total)
The local media are partly to blame, with their pre-Olympic warnings about potential traffic congestion, parking problems, crowds, and other hassles. I know many locals who, like me, made the decision to avoid Salt Lake's downtown area for the duration.
posted by Big Dave at 10:08 AM on February 14, 2002

The Salt Lake Organizing Committee warned everyone to avoid the downtown area in order to keep traffic congestion to a minimum. So we have. Then, the restaurants increased their prices and added a mandatory gratuity in order to stick the tourists for a little extra, so that drove more locals away. Now they're surprised that they're losing money?

On preview: Yeah, what Big Dave said.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:10 AM on February 14, 2002

"The bottom line is that people in surrounding areas for some reason have this belief that it's incredibly hard to get downtown and it'll be real crowded"

Let's see, the last time a crowd gathered downtown in an American city for an Olympics-related event, Eric Rudolph left a small package behind, and the FBI STILL hasn't captured him.
posted by mischief at 10:16 AM on February 14, 2002

Don't ask. I'm from Montreal.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:18 AM on February 14, 2002

The last I heard, at least the hookers were cleaning up.

So to speak.
posted by Skot at 10:24 AM on February 14, 2002

What was Salt Lake City thinking in the first place? Inviting the world to a party hosted by Utah taxpayers, only with one slight problem: Las Vegas is a few hours down the street.

If I cared enough about any of the festivities to travel to the region, I'd be hanging back at the Rio, then possibly even think twice about heading back north at all. I can't even stand Vegas for longer than one 24 hour period.

The joke's on Utah.
posted by crasspastor at 11:08 AM on February 14, 2002

There are hookers in Utah?
posted by spnx at 11:19 AM on February 14, 2002

People like to complain.

I've been in Utah since just before we received the bid, and I certainly wasn't under any impression that the Olympics would be an immediate boon to the area. Add to that the intervening economic slow-down, and that nasty surprise back in September... well, there you go!

I, for one, am expecting this to have more long-term benefits, rather than anything that will show up on this quarter's revenues.

Besides, a lot of money has come into the area for students working the venues... and given most students aversion to saving money, I'd expect to see that money flowing out into the community in the weeks following the games.
posted by silusGROK at 11:34 AM on February 14, 2002

Crasspastor: actually, the joke is on the people who have stayed away. The folks at the games -- including the media that I work with -- seem to be having a great time; they're particularly happy that all the belly-aching about drinking laws was much-ado about nothing.
posted by silusGROK at 11:36 AM on February 14, 2002

Personally, I couldn't wait to get out of Utah just to avoid the 'lympics. But I love the place, and will be heading back once they're over.

I guess I'm like BigDave and mr_crash_davis, only I got 3000 miles away, not just outta downtown. (Since vis10n lives in Provo, he doesn't really count.)
posted by terceiro at 1:13 PM on February 14, 2002


No, the drinking laws are kind of ass. I visited SLC earlier this month and found that 3.2% alcohol beers taste like half the pint is water (unless you get a *really* light pale).

Of course, I had a blast anyways, and the fact that they sell you TWICE as much 3.2% beer for the same price you'd pay for just a pint anywhere else really makes up for it. Or evens it out, or whatever.

Yeah. I suppose I had the option of buying the non-3.2% beers at the "Private Club[s] For Members" but I wanted the big ol' 24 oz. mug.

Side note to add relevancy: My friend immediately purchased a flask with a screened on Olympic logo that read "Salt Lake 2002". Said logo wore off after 20 minutes of sledding. I think the lower-than-expected economic return can somehow be related to this occurence. (Please note: Whisky inside, fortunately, was still good.)

Also: the Dead Goat ruled. Port O' Call was ok/pretty decent. You can smoke in bars in Utah. Snow is cold. That is all.
posted by fishfucker at 1:19 PM on February 14, 2002

Typing from South Carolina, whose motto is:

"Smiling Faces, Liquor Laws from the 19th Century"

I have to ask: Is Utah a minibottle state? South Carolina still is, and I don't know anymore if we're the only state in the Union that is.

Anyone know?
posted by ebarker at 1:20 PM on February 14, 2002

The local real estate tycoons apparently benefited from road building and land swaps. It pays to have connections.
posted by euphorb at 4:38 PM on February 14, 2002

ebarker, where in SC? I live in Irmo.

South Carolina: It's not the heat, it's the stupidity."
posted by alumshubby at 4:41 PM on February 14, 2002


No, we no longer use minibottles. Instead, we have the even more dastardly metered drink. One ounce of alcohol, per drink, regardless of the size of the drink.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:51 PM on February 14, 2002

Everyone I'm meeting out here (I work with the international press) is cooing over the Dead Goat, so it seems to be a hit.
posted by silusGROK at 5:20 PM on February 14, 2002

The games were a great boost to Sarajevo!
posted by aaron at 1:39 AM on February 15, 2002

just saw this thing in the idler and remembered this thread so i thought i'd post it here:

The Winter Olympics may prove to be the city's undoing. It has gambled the shop on the games' economic effects ($3 billion in revenues) and after-effects. But in the post-September 11 environment, the only after effects are likely to be a capacity hangover: empty hotel rooms and infrastructure (roads, slopes, convention centers) falling into disuse. Even the Church's fabulous (and rather mysterious) portfolio (c. $20-40 billion) will be unable to provide sufficient counter-cyclical impetus. It has just dispensed with $300 million in cash to build a new Assembly Hall. Many similarly large undertakings will be required to offset a property bust. This may be beyond even the power of latter day saints.
posted by kliuless at 2:59 PM on February 15, 2002


idle speculation, you say?
posted by Big Dave at 4:13 PM on February 15, 2002

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