Mark Lamster Thinks Dallas Should Host the Olympics Because Parties Are Fun

640px-West_Midlands_Police_-_Olympic_Football_Images_002.jpg
West Midlands Police -- Olympic Football Images

Judging from an altogether odd post to The Dallas Morning News's Center Stage blog, the newspaper's architecture critic, Mark Lamster, has apparently decided that those "progressive types" who might be a little wary of the city's bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics are just Debbie Downers who don't know the value of having a good time.

Yes, he briefly nods at the many potential pitfalls facing hosts -- like the potential for massive, catastrophic overspending and the way the games practically invite corruption and graft -- before sweeping those worries aside.

Lamster wants the Olympics because Dallas will be left with some "new urban toys," and everyone will, probably, have a really good time. He doesn't tell you the inevitable cost of those baubles, or what a hellscape the city will turn into for the months and weeks before and after the shindig.

According to a 2012 study by University of Oxford's Said Business School, cities hosting the Olympics in the last half century have gone over budget 100 percent of the time. An average Olympics is 179 percent over budget, a figure that, combined with the pressure to makes each games bigger and better than the one before it, can saddle cities with billions of dollars in unexpected debt.

Sometimes, the effect of the debt causes more embarrassment than long term harm. Beijing's National Stadium, the iconic Bird's Nest, is an architectural marvel. Now, it's largely a relic. It has no regular tenant and sits empty for most of the year. The Bird's Nest fate, or something worse, could easily befall any newly constructed stadium for a North Texas Olympics. Atlanta was lauded for its conversion of its 1996 Olympic Stadium into a stadium for the Braves following the games. Now, the Braves are moving to the suburbs and the stadium's being demolished.

None of which compares to the fate that befell Greece after Athens hosted the 2004 Summer Games. Greece spent, in 2014 dollars, $11 billion on its Olympiad, more than double the games' original estimated cost. In the decade since, the 2004 Games have come to be viewed as, if not a root cause of Greece's economic meltdown, the most glaring emblem of that crisis. Stadiums sat deserted and fenced-off for years, patrolled by private security, albatrosses that the games left behind.

It's impossible to know now whether the games would, as Lamster suggests, actually give the city "an opportunity to move forward with transportation and development projects (especially housing) that would be difficult to achieve absent some outside force pushing things along" or prove to be, at best, a hopeless boondoggle from which Dallasites' best possible outcome will be to lurk around the periphery of a party that will "give [them] something to dine out on for the rest of [their] days."

Maybe it'd be worth it to see just how big that check will be before doing anything rash.



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28 comments
TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

If the Olympics are coming to TX., can we at least get some exciting events added to the program like Mexican Poker?

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

Dallas could host the O's; we have the infrastructure. The only thing that would stand in the way would be ALL that crappy infighting that has put Big D twenty years behind The Fort. 

doggiespirit
doggiespirit

Uh, technically Lamster said he did *not* want the Olympics for the new toys.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

Those who are against Dallas hosting of the Olympics should try to get Obama to lobby for the games, just to be safe.

Tipster1908
Tipster1908

Graft, corruption, sweetheart real estate deals, and private use of public funds for personal gain are already the standard operating procedure in Dallas. Why not at least put those skills to use on some marquee projects? We wouldn't need to build out new facilities for many of the events, and our hotel capacity is pretty decent as well. The biggest need we would have is reliable transit between all the venues. And when you're talking Olympics, you're talking public transit, not building a bunch of new highways. What else other than the prospect of hosting the Olympics will persuade Jerry to allow mass transit to be built directly to his stadium's feet?

EdD.
EdD.

If D/FW can follow LA's example from 1984 and re-use a lot of existing venues, it could work. If it becomes an excuse to bulldoze Fair Park for the usual mix of developers, pro team owners, pols, connected con men, and equity holders who stick Dallas with the bill and walk away with $50 billion... not so much.

BushwoodSmithie
BushwoodSmithie

There's an old saying that even a broken clock is right twice a day. Lamster belies this cliche. I'm still waiting for even one intelligent comment out of him. 


Apparently the only actual accomplishment of his life was to con the DMN into hiring him.



ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Gunther might be onto sumpin. Can you imagine watching the rowing on the Trinity from the Hill bridge? Run the bicycling in the LBJ HIV lanes.

Just beware if you need new sewers anywhere in Baja Dallas.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

Yellow, the official Cab of the 2024 Olympics.

MattL11
MattL11

The rational part of me knows that hosting the Olympics is almost always a bad deal for the host city. I know that. It would more than likely be bad in the long run. 


However, there is a (childish) part of me that thinks it would be a fucking blast.  

d-may
d-may

The terrible Olympics are certainly well documented. But for every Beijing, Athens, or Sochi, there is an LA, London, and Vancouver. Salt Lake is another that did it right. Atlanta, despite the bad press, has been completely transformed for the better in large part by the Olympics. 


The trick to hosting the Olympics is honoring your budget. Those cities I listed aren't better than Dallas, nor do they have fewer corrupt politicians or business leaders. But the Olympics can make a great difference for a city, and that's what I hope for Dallas. 

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

I'm confused as to why we would need new facilities. You've got the Deathstar in Arlington, The Temple, the AAC, the Cotton Bowl, and SMU. Maybe you need a natatorium but it seems the infrastructure is all here.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

If you could get Mitt Romney to manage them, you might make a profit.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Tipster1908 until Jerry gets a cut of every fare a passenger pays to ride a bus or train to his stadium, he aint letting a Dart vehicle anywhere near his $75 a spot parking lot

RobertStinson
RobertStinson

@EdD. The bulldozing and redevelopment of Fair Park is a cornerstone of the Olympic plan. F.P. neighborhoods are the proposed location of the Olympic village, so there will be a lot of people displaced en masse. I'm not opposed to redevelopment, but it's one thing if the gentrification occurs over time versus bringing in the bulldozer.


Overall, why do we want invite more debt, corruption and crony capitalism to a city rife with these problems?

RobertStinson
RobertStinson

@d-may How has Atlanta been transformed for the better? They have better freeways, I'll give you that. What else?


I was at Atlanta. The games themselves were a blast. But the rest of it was awful. It was too hot, everything was spread out, MARTA was not accessible to many of the venues and the commercialization was cheesy. And Dallas will avoid all of this mess?

RobertStinson
RobertStinson

@glenn.hunter @BushwoodSmithie Glenn - your magazine has a major credibility problem. D Magazine will support anything any project that has a commercial real estate and construction component no matter how cockamamie.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Pretty sure you could put one in the Cotton Bowl for next to nothing by Olympic standards. Swimming facilities would be the challenge, and that's because I have no idea what SMU has.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@TheCredibleHulk


You ever get the feeling that Ruddski is an aging hippie, with not a lot to do except post facts and links from stuff he's read.  Just sayin'. 

nathan_mclain
nathan_mclain

Lewisville ISD just built the nicest natatorium in the area, but I'm sure SMU would be happy to build a new one.

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