After New York lost bids to host the Olympics, a disappointed Mayor Michael Bloomberg called hosting the Olympics, “an incredible opportunity to build infrastructure, create jobs, and attract new visitors and business." Politicians always make such claims when suckering taxpayers into paying for grand public projects like lavish sports stadiums.
Politicians always make this foolish claim when suckering taxpayers into paying for lavish sports stadium.
Now the media is praising South Africa for hosting the World Cup, and rightly so. Many of the predicted calamities did not occur, and the games were a success. The LA Times declared South Africa the World Cup's big winner. But as Radley Balko explains, South Africa will have little to show for its huge financial investment:
South Africa’s ability to pull it all together for six weeks doesn’t mean the World Cup will be a net benefit to the country in the long term. As the ESPN video below explains, South Africa’s government spent $6 billion on the tournament. Tournament-related revenues are expected to fall well short of that figure. Some of the hundred million dollar stadiums built for the tournament won’t get much use now that the games are over. The video points to one stadium built for the tournament which will likely remain vacant—it sits over over slums that lack running water.
Fond memories of the month South Africa performed marvelously on the world stage are nice. But $6 billion is a lot to pay for a memory. These spectacles—the World Cup and the Olympics—are nearly always money losers. They’re a lousy investment in wealthy countries. They’re particularly garrish in countries that aren’t as affluent.
Such spectacles are garish in affluent America too.
ESPN video referenced by Balko here.