Corporate Welfare

Am I Anti-American If I Hope That Chicago Doesn't Get The Olympics?

|

Or am I just pro Chicago?

The Olympics are virtually always money-losers for the host city. Even for cities that claim to have surpluses:

With frequent overruns, few cities end up recouping any profits after the athletes have gone home. Even cities that cite surpluses, such as 1984 host Los Angeles and 1998 host Calgary, often don't include total expenditures in security and indirect costs in the final tally. And other cities find themselves far in the red. Montreal, host of the 1976 Summer Games, only finished paying off its Olympic debt in 2006. Officials in Nagano, Japan, spent so much on the 1998 Winter Games that they destroyed their financial records.

The cities lose money for the same reason publicly funded stadiums lose money: They mostly pull money from existing entertainment options and spread it around to other sources, causing no net gain. And when you factor in the humongous amount of resources that get sucked out of the economy to gold-plate velodromes and whatnot, well, good luck breaking even, much less turning a buck on the whole thing. Some supporters talk about "The Olympic Effect," the idea that being will to pour money down a rathole shows the world your city is ready to be a big-time playa. Well, maybe, but Chicago is doing far better than average right now and hardly needs that sort of publicity.

And as Jesse Walker pointed out a few days ago, even Windy City residents are split on mortgaging their future for an event that lost its oomph about 30 seconds after the Berlin Wall was kaput.

Here's hoping the famously corrupt International Olympic Committee "awards" the games to a place that won't bankrupt Americans.

Update: It ain't Chicago. It's Rio.

NEXT: The Coming Public-Sector Pension Crisis

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. No, but you are racist.

  2. Or am I just pro Chicago?

    I believe the current term is racist. That might hold with a second term too.

  3. Nick, are you saying you don’t want to see sob stories about some athlete being inspired by the untimely death of her step-father’s cousin’s uncle’s student from Chicago? Yes, I’d say you are Anti-American.

  4. Maybe you’re just anti-Olympics.

    I’m rooting for Rio.

  5. I’m rooting for Rio.

    She’s dancing on the sand.

    1. Just like that river

  6. So we should just do away with the Olympics? Are they a net money loser? If so, I’m surprised they keep doing it every four years.

    1. “So we should just do away with the Olympics? Are they a net money loser?”

      Not everything is about money Lamar. There’s also honor, sex, love, happiness, family, sex, violence, meditation, sex, sex, and sex. Sure, money can improve most of those things, but taken alone, they’re all good. Especially sex.

  7. I don’t want Chicago to get it just so Obama has another failed mission.

  8. The cities lose money for the same reason publicly funded stadiums lose money: They mostly pull money from existing entertainment options and spread it around to other sources, causing no net gain.

    Any source from the claim that most spectators to Olympic events are visitors who would have been spending money at other entertainment venues is the same city absent the Olympics? That strikes me as a reasonable assertion to make about public stadiums, which famously depend on home-town support for the teams playing in them but less so for the Olympics, which would seem to have the cachet to attract people who wouldn’t otherwise be visiting Chicago at all.

    1. Parse,

      Yes of course the Olympics bring in travelers from near and far, so it’s not exactly the same as your typical public stadium deal, but the same basic dynamic is there. It’s also true that most of the construction costs to build will be borne by locals, who then get venues that have next to no use post-Olympics; it’s the equivalent of trying to earn back all the costs in a three-week period.

      The article I link to points to a study that shows how Chicago has fudged its tourism numbers in stumping for the games, which is common in pushes for these sorts of things.

  9. I hope they do get it, just so that journalists around the world can see what a dystopian nightmare Obama’s Chicago has become, with kids getting beaten to death with railroad ties and crap like that.

    1. So the railrod ties make it a dystopian nightmare? Cause the kids being beaten to death has been a part of Chicago from the start.

    2. You can’t really blame Obama for Chicago being full of violent, impoverished youths… it would be like blaming George W. Bush for Texas being full of stupid people: it’s always been that way, and there is nothing we can do to fix it. Well, I’m sure there’s something we could do, but stuff is always so complex, it makes my head hurt to think about it.

  10. OMG YOU GUISE IT’S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT THE MONEY!!!!11 IT’S ABOUT PRIDE

  11. I live a stone’s throw from the proposed Olympic site and have heard gunfire (that’s doubtlessly originating from a temporary Latin Kings power vacuum) for the past FIVE NIGHTS IN A ROW. Yay, Chicago!

    1. I don’t believe you. Everyone knows guns are illegal in Chicago. So how are you hearing gunfire? LIAR!

    2. “the” proposed Olympic site? If one site qualifies as “the” site, it would have been the stadium in Washington Park. And last I checked, and for, oh 50 years past, there’s been a Latin Kings power vacuum around Washington Park.

  12. Watching Daley’s speech to the IOC and the first lines are about race (Owens and 36 Olympics).

    Clearly, if we oppose Chicago, we are racists and the Nazis win.

  13. When Bloomberg lost his push to get the 2012 games for New York I almost cried with happiness.

    If we’re so hated aronud the world why does the Olympic committee keep coming up with US cities to host? Why not Qom or Haifa? Jalalabad or Pretoria? Don’t those places need the boost in infrastruture and tourism?

  14. Are they a net money loser?

    Well…. let’s just say, “Not for everybody.”

    1. Bingo!

  15. I don’t hate Chicago, so I hope they get lucky and the IOC awards the games to someoene else.

    Mind you, I’m torn, because I don’t hate any of those other places either.

    Lamar, how can you be surprised when a community does something stupid for the sake of sports. Haven’t you seen that monstrosity going up beside I-4.

  16. If you oppose spending vast sums of other people’s money to build a glorious palace for future large scale political rallies, you’re a RACIST.

    If you support it, you are a FASCIST.

  17. journalists around the world can see what a dystopian nightmare Obama’s Chicago has become, with kids getting beaten to death with railroad ties and crap like that.

    Remember when the cops used to beat kids to death in Chicago?

    -jcr

    1. Which highlights the decline in services offered in American cities. No longer can the city goverment afford to beat kids to death and the kids have to do it too each other. We obviously need to start a Federally funded “Midnight Beatdown Program”.

    2. *sigh* Ah, the good old days. Damn you, less-lethal weapons!

      On the other hand, it’s nice that cities have been able to cut their street-light budgets, now that the thoroughfares are illuminated with the sparking from all the tasers.

  18. The Chicago machine and the IOC, two of the most corrupt institutions in the world, working together to fleece the city. This will be ugly.

  19. What I always find interesting about these sorts of events is just how much bullshit and over the top boosterism is is involved in getting them going.

  20. You can’t put a number on Civic Pride!

  21. It’s no accident that this was posted right after the public-sector pension post. The Olympics are nothing but a reason to get the community giddy while pushing through a huge tax increase.

  22. Rowing events in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal! WoooooHooooooo

  23. Even cities that cite surpluses, such as 1984 host Los Angeles and 1998 host Calgary,

    Uh. The Calgary Olympics were in 1988.

  24. Am I Anti-American If I Hope That Chicago Doesn’t Get The Olympics?

    Nope. It makes you racist.

  25. Just the air show in Chicago every summer is bad enough to make me dread leaving the house, as the city is flooded with tourists and it’s impossible to go anywhere interesting (and even if you could, it would be crowded). The Olympics would basically be the air show for a few weeks, except that the preparation is years longer, and I have to pay for the privilege. No wantee!

  26. I would be fascinated to see what’s on the “We need this” list for eminent domain confiscation. Something tells me there is a large new front planned in the War Against Poor People.

    1. Simply put, the “we need” list is headed up by your paycheck and bank account.

  27. The best argument against hosting the Olympics: “Quick, without looking it up, tell me where the 2002 Olympics were.”

  28. And when you factor in the humongous amount of resources that get sucked out of the economy to gold-plate velodromes and whatnot

    Sweeping all your homeless under the rug isn’t cheap, either.

  29. Lake Placid, NY hosted the Olympics twice. All they got out of it was the Olympic Regional Development Authority.

    1. Hey, no one does Authorities like New York State.

  30. Chicago, no Olympics for you. Tokyo is out, too.

  31. Chicago LOSES!

    CNBC morons are STUNNED!

    *crocodile tears*

    1. Chicago doesn’t get the Olympics and Barry O was out of the country for 24 hours.

      It’s a win-win.

      1. On the other hand, we had to listen to Michelle and Oprah talk about what a sacrifice it was to go to Denmark. So…win-win-lose.

  32. This morning while listening to Democracy Now on KPFA (my rage at the idiots on the show is the only thing that gets me up in the morning), I couldn’t help but laugh at the guy they had who talked about how undertakings this size are always fraught with corruption, back room deals, cost overruns, which all combine to help mainly the people in power while leaving everybody else paying the bill and the people who are always hurt the worst are the poorest in the area. I’m sure if I were to ask him if he had the same worries about any government program, he would call me racist.

  33. Sadly, none of the candidate logos are as classy as London’s.

  34. Sweeping all your homeless under the rug isn’t cheap, either.

    If only we cou;ld be as ruthlessly efficient as the Chinese…

  35. I love seeing my local politicians squirm.

  36. Disregard that semicolon.

    stupid keyboard

  37. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

    IOC must have realized that the athletes stood a significantly higher chance of being shot in Chicago than the alternatives….

    Oh yeah, and dem Danes be racis….

    1. the athletes stood a significantly higher chance of being shot in Chicago than the alternatives….

      Was Munich bidding again?

      -jcr

  38. I guess nobody on the I.O.C. wanted to risk getting beaten to death by a railroad tie wielding dirtbag.

    Oh well, another epic fail by the Loser-in-Chief. What else is new?

  39. I for one was looking forward to the exhibition sports “drive by target shooting,” “gang group combat,” and “interpretive politician dance.”

  40. Obama screwed it by going personally, instead of sending someone like Rod Blagojevich who knows just how persuasive bribery can be.

  41. Someone on the news just called it the “Chicago Shocker.”

  42. Political capital waning. It’s amateur hour.

  43. I’m surprised* Phil Lebeau didn’t cover the celebrations which undoubtedly have begun. I’m surprised* he didn’t give any coverage to the people opposed to the Olympics, or to their economic arguments.

    *not really

  44. Axelrod and Emmanuel have lost their minds. Unless they are setting up a Hillary run in 2012.

  45. What’s of greatest interest is that Chicago didn’t even make it past the first round. I assumed that if Chicago lost it would be in the final round.

  46. Axelrod and Emmanuel are more arrogant than capable. I’m not a huge fan of Rove, but he makes these guys look like retarded chimps.

    1. I’m quite sure there’s sopme irony here, but it’s just beyond my line of sight…

  47. Why should Nick trouble himself with questions such as whether he is anti-american?

    He professes to be a libertarian. As a libertarian, one would hope that he has already transcended identification with a nation state.

    Yo, if one is a self actualized libertarian, one does not give two hoots about a nation state.

  48. Apparently I’m not the only one repulsed by a parade of Richard Daley, Oprah, The Obamas, and Pat Ryan.

  49. One of the CNBC idiots asked if the IOC takes local opposition into account.

    I’m guessing, “No.”

    Unless the opponents are willing to offer more to keep the Games out than the supporters offer to get them.

  50. Whew, the pressure’s off me now.

    1. Presidents don’t have any influence over the IOC. He couldn’t have won. Failure was the only option before he walked out. So nothing has changed.

  51. I think the Polanski thing killed it.

  52. MSNBC’s resident left-wing (I know, that’s redundant) doctor, one Nancy-somebody, who has a show creatively titled “Dr. Nancy”, almost wept at the news. It’s hilarious. Almost as hilarious as her adult guests, who address her as “Dr. Nancy.” Is MSNBC run by retards? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

  53. Doctor Nancy should get her ass to Chicago; those poor distraught people NEED HER HELP!

  54. People accused the Bushies of hubris. Well, the Chicago gang just got served a super-sized shit sandwich. Chow down, Oprah! Megalomania isn’t what it used to be.

  55. Now, let us take a moment to feel sorry for poor Rio, who are about to get thoroughly rogered by the IOC.

  56. Drudge Headline:

    THE EGO HAS LANDED
    WORLD REJECTS OBAMA: CHICAGO OUT IN FIRST ROUND

  57. Now, let us take a moment to feel sorry for poor Rio, who are about to get thoroughly rogered by the IOC.

    I have a feeling that Michael Caine is responsible for this.

  58. Also, given what we know about the way the IOC operates, how did Chicago think they were going to be able to compete with a city with as many hot prostitutes as Rio?

    1. Gang thuggery in one hand, Brazilian waxes on the other.

      It’s no contest.

  59. The only think left in Barry’s playbook is another stimulus.

  60. C’mon, seriously… How did Chicago even garner consideration?

    Did indicted Baltimore mayor Sheila Dixon not get the paperwork for the murder capital of the nation in on time or something? And were Grozny, Ciudad Juarez, Sadr City, and Bogota all booked for other events?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.