For a city in the midst of a financial calamity the likes of which few cities have ever seen, it might take something huge to work toward in order to pull it out of the abyss; perhaps a bid to host the Olympics?
On the surface that sounds fantastic: the world’s eye on Detroit, a foreseeable deadline with which to complete real estate projects, tons of additional money pouring into the city, the attraction of major retailers and developers.
But in Detroit’s case, it might be especially advantageous to do a cost-benefit analysis with regard to committing to such an enormous undertaking.
Anyone interested in Detroit’s resurgence or government is aware of the city’s current economic and political condition. Governor Rick Snyder recently announced plans to appoint an Emergency Financial Manager to take over for 18 months, and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has said that he will not fight against the order.
Detroit has been facing problems on a fundamental level for some time now, including a dysfunctional city government, corrupt politicians, a failing education system and little money for basic things like street lights and a decent-sized police force.
The Southwest side of the city recently stepped up to fend for itself in order to turn on the lights through the neighborhood’s main artery, Vernor Highway.
All of those things coupled with the city’s near-bankruptcy position and the cost of hosting the Olympics is a recipe for disaster.
As CNN.com reports, the 1976 Summer Games hosted by Montreal left the city “with a $1.5 billion debt that took three decades to erase. The final payment on the debt was made in 2006.”
Businessweek.com even speculated that the 2004 Games hosted in Athens contributed to Greece’s financial demise.
Mayor Bing announced that Detroit will not seek the 2024 Summer Games, as “the bid calls for a $10 million upfront bid process payment and adding more than a $3 billion operating budget commitment – not including cost associated with venue construction and other infrastructure cost.”
When a city is having trouble paying the electric bill and is on the brink of financial implosion, it might be a good idea to learn to crawl before trying to walk. As Deadline Detroit put it, “Detroit needs to host the Olympics like you need a hole in your head.”