Civic boosterism... in the LA Times? What will they ever think of next!
MICHAEL HILTZIK / GOLDEN STATE
The list of things that traditionally certify a city as "major league" in sports is short: a big-league baseball or football franchise. But what does it take to be "world class"? There the options boil down to one thing: hosting the Olympics."And I think we have a good chance," Barry Sanders told me. This Barry Sanders (not to be confused with the ex-Detroit Lion running back) is chairman of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games, which earlier this month announced that Los Angeles intends to bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Sanders gets to the nub of L.A.'s appeal as an Olympic host: Almost all the necessary venues already exist, down to a velodrome for bicycle racing. Most have been built since 1984. This is a plus because the Games' reputation as a deficit-breeding monster stems from the tendency of host cities to build facilities from scratch.
Moreover, (Saunders) contends that even the experience of bidding for the Games can help forge a community spirit."This town needs a first-tier event to bring people together," he told me. "I do not consider the Olympics a panacea for all problems, but they're a big net plus, and they give us the opportunity to build other plusses upon them."That said, it's worth considering the legacy of the 1984 Games. For a time, L.A. basked in the glory of their success. The Games came off like clockwork and raked in a $232.5-million surplus. Of that, $94 million was donated to the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles, which continues to support youth sports programs throughout Southern California.
The run-up to the 1984 Olympics included such long-overdue public improvements as the modernization of LAX. The dithering ever since then over the next round of airport improvements may reflect the absence of a similar event-driven deadline.Would it be terrible if the prospect of another Olympics gave voters and public officials the pretext they needed to get this work done, along with so much else that has been languishing on various public agendas? Who knows - maybe a concerted, communal run at the 2016 Olympics would help turn Los Angeles into the city of the 21st century at last.
About the only major project that would need to be built would be the Olympic Village - and just possibly some rowing facilities. So...what about using the Olympics to help finance revitalizing part of the LA River. We already have a Mayor who can get excited about big projects - and he can also get other people excited about them. We also have at least one writer at the LA Times who thinks this may not be a bad idea. And if the Neighborhood Councils can get involved from the beginning and work together to make certain this would benefit all of the city - we can make this happen.
And one more big idea - we are one of the few major cities never to hold a World's Fair. So imagine a World's Fair that could leave in its wake - several miles of greened LA River right after the Olympic kick off the project?
Well, I can dream, can't I?
Lastly, I wish I could help myself... but... in the above LAT article... pluses... is spelled... as plusses... which is not the most preferred way.
There. I feel a lot better now.