Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bridesmaid yet again


Buried amidst the more pressing matters in the World this week, the United States Olympic Committee decided who would be their official bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.

It’s not San Francisco.

it stings to see us passed over yet again.

San Francisco first seriously flirted with the Summer Olympics when there was a move to bid for the 1996 Games. Atlanta was eventually awarded the Games despite a huge controversy since that was the 100th anniversary of the modern Olympic movement and many considered it a lock for Athens, the city which hosted the first Olympics of the modern movement.

With Atlanta winning the 1996 Summer Games and Salt Lake City being awarded the 2002 Winter Games, it was felt there was little chance they could win in 2004 or 2008. (By that time Athens had already been awarded the 2000 Games).

A San Francisco bid was one of the front runners for the 2012 Games, only to lose out to New York. (New York eventually lost out to London).

Not to be deterred, a bid was formulated for the 2016 Summer Games. This bid had issues, particularly revolving around where the main stadium would be.

Levi’s Stadium was not quite yet a glint in Jed York’s eye, and this was several years after the DeBartolo debacle had collapsed in a heap of ash. This would have brought a brand new stadium and hotel development to Candlestick Point, and kept the San Francisco 49ers in the City for decades to come.

This issue of a centralized stadium eventually caused San Francisco to be withdrawn from USOC consideration.

I can understand that. Consider the awesomeness that was the Bird Nest Stadium of the 2008 Beijing Games.

Now it was hoped this most recent bid (2024) would be the charm. In fact, if you’d asked people involved with the bidding process earlier this week, San Francisco and Los Angeles were considered the front runners. Alas, but we’re sitting on the side lines once again.

To be honest, I think the main stadium was, yet again, the Achilles heel. When will they learn?

The 2024 bid had plans for a $350 million pop-up stadium, located in Brisbane. This temporary facility would be dismantled after the Games concluded, presumably to be sold and shipped off to Lord knows where for reuse. But, that’s a fair chunk of change to be spent for such a short period of timed.

Before anybody says how they’re so happy because all that money could now be spent on better things…don’t bother. The plan was for the 2024 Olympic Games to be completely funded through private monies, unlike the 1996 Americas Cup Races, which cost the City of San Francisco and Port of San Francisco about $11.5 million.

I haven’t heard why Levi’s Stadium wasn’t considered. After all, the games could take place before the San Francisco 49ers NFL season. Perhaps it was the thought that the marque events, the Opening and Closing ceremonies, would be taking place in Santa Clara?

If that’s the reason, it must’ve really stuck in someone’s craw when a last minute suggestion would have placed those events across the Bay in Oakland, inside a new stadium built at the Coliseum Complex. That stadium would be permanent, and serve as a long-term home for the Oakland Raiders.

I’m sure the actual reasons will dribble out over the next few weeks. But, it won’t surprise me to hear that was a big part of it.

Congratulation to Boston. A nice thing about their bid is that it’s going to be fairly compact, with most events happening right there in the Boston metropolitan area.

Still, Boston 2024 is going to have some stiff competition. Cities have until September 15, 2015 to submit their bids. As of right now, Rome is the only city that has submitted it’s paperwork. However, bids are expected from Berlin, Paris, and Istanbul.

Additionally, there are at least a half dozen other cities from around the globe which have been rumored to be considering a bid.

Personally, I’m torn. As much as I’d love to see an American city get the bid, it would likely mean no San Francisco bids for at least another 20 years.

Next year’s Summer Olympics are taking place in Rio de Janeiro. They will be the first Olympics to take place in South America.

Despite having a handful of bids over the years, an African city has never hosted the Olympics. However, there has been talk of bids coming from Nairobi, Casablanca, Durban or Johannesburg.

If the money can be found to put forth a strong bid, it’d be wonderful to see that fifth Olympic ring represent the Olympics happening on the African continent, and not just that her athletes are taking part.

The winning city for the 2024 Summer Olympics will be selected in 2017, at the Lima, Peru International Olympic session.