Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tulsa eyeing an Olympic bid for 2020

It's the Twilight Zone up in Green Country.

Tulsa community leaders have formed a public task force to consider making a bid for the Olympics in 2020. They may raise private funds to publicize Tulsa over the next few years as a possible site for the 2020 Olympics. The rationale is that Atlanta, when they made their bid in 1989, was hardly further along than Tulsa is today, and yet it won. Some have proposed that the International Olympic Committee loves the underdog when choosing a site, quoting from the host city application packet, "Bigger does not necessarily mean better." Apparently the Olympics have never been to Texas, or talked to a college student in the preppy south for very long.

The requirements for host cities: 40,000 quality hotel rooms, but Tulsa acknowledges they have 13,000 (one proposal that can't be serious is to fill the Port of Catoosa with cruise ships that could room 150 people each); an 80,000 seat Olympic stadium, an aquatics center, a velodrome for track cycling (whatever that is), dorms for athletes, and temporary routes for marathons and road courses..but Tulsa believes the facilities can be paid for by the Olympics coming to town, reiterating multiple times in the Tulsa Whirled article that the bid would be at no taxpayer expense. Tulsa leaders have also suggested that, like in the case with Atlanta, sites could be hosted across the region, and utilize facilities at OU, OSU, and in OKC. But isn't that making a better argument for OKC hosting the Olympics than for Tulsa? There are serious questions as to whether the airport is adequate in handling enough incoming visitors, too..and I know the roads leading to Tulsa aren't.

How can you seriously be confident in an Olympic bid that is at no taxpayer expense? The only thing that leaves Tulsa with that is supporting it is the BOK Center, basically.

Another problem: If Chicago is chosen for the 2016 Olympic games (a decision will come out Oct. 2) then it won't be returning to the US of A four years right afterward. That could be a good thing though, allowing Tulsa (and Oklahoma, for that matter) to seriously ponder whether it wants to be a potential Olympic host city/state or not. It will take a lot more than just applying for it and hoping they humor your underdogness.

Another city that has put a lot of consideration toward applying for the Olympics, that is a similar longshot as Tulsa, is Birmingham, Alabama. I think the best thing the 'Ham has going for it is the city in England that shares its namesake.

There are also benchmarks that a city must meet in the realm of mass transit too, which we all know just pretty much eliminates Oklahoma. The only reason Houston ever embarked on its current light rail system was to court the Olympics, which Chicago beat Houston out as the US contender. Apparently size does matter..and there are probably very few US cities that aren't "top 5" that could possibly host the Olympics, and Tulsa and Birmingham aren't among them. Maybe Austin, Denver, Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Portland..maybe. Of course NYC/LA/Chicago/Houston go without saying. But Tulsa and Birmingham have a long ways to go, but if they seriously tried and worked for it, the worst that could happen is that they become better cities for it. Houston got eliminated in the second-to-final round (the final round is Chicago, Madrid, Tokyo, and Rio) but it still has Reliant Stadium, Enron Field, a light rail system, and more. Even though it won't be getting the Olympics anytime soon, it is still a much better city. This is how a bid might just not be a bad idea. Kudos, I guess, to Tulsa for considering boldness.

P.S. The IOC has suggested Africa should be the host for the 2020 Olympics. Cape Town and Durban are competing, and I'd say Cape Town hands-down. Been there once, never been to Durban, never wanted to go to Durban (I value my life). Cape Town however is hosting the FIFA World Cup and placed 3rd for the 2004 Summer Games, behind Rome and eventual host, Athens. Cities in Asia that might apply to host: Delhi, Doha, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Baku (Azerbaijan), Istanbul, and Taipei; In Europe: Rome, Milan, Scotland, St. Petersburg, Valencia, and Warsaw; In North America: Birmingham, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Tulsa, Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Toronto; Elsewhere: Lima, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney. Prague (Czech Rep.) has canceled its bid. Tough crowd.


marc said...

I don't get how Tulsa thinks it's anywhere near where Atlanta was in 88. In 88, Atlanta had a metro population of almost 3 million.

Walker, Downtown Ranger said...

Yeah it's pretty insane, but that's what the quote said in the article I linked to. Kid you not.

capetown2020 said...

Visit the Cape Town 2020 blog.


Michael said...

Seems you dont know much about durban which is unfortunate...because if you did you would realise that if you "valued your life" it is Cape Town you should avoid as it has SA's highest murder rate...c'est la vie

Walker, Downtown Ranger said...

I didn't realize that, Michael. And you're right I don't know much about Durban..just don't have any reason. It doesn't have the world-class city status that Johannesburg and Cape Town enjoy. Cape Town is just a beautiful setting, with an interesting city. Johannesburg is just a huge, prosperous capitol city. Durban..? I just never wanted to visit. I don't know if I would have been as amazed with SA if I'd gone to Durban instead of Cape Town and Jo'burg.