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A Detroit 2024 Olympics might have been the ridiculous goal Detroit needed

Detroit Olympic bid 2024
Postscript: Mayor Bing has said Detroit won’t bid for the 2024 Olympics. So we adjusted the headline. However, we should still think big.

If you survey highly successful people you’ll discover a positive attitude is a key to making things happen.

That’s why the idea of an Olympics in 2024 is so intriguing to me.

The idea was pushed forward thanks to a Facebook page and lit the internet on fire with an official letter as well as those who dare to dream. Still, a 2024 Olympic bid has many people in Detroit reacting with automatic air of dismissiveness. It’s time to turn that mindset around.

Detroit Olympic LogoWhen the Super Bowl was being discussed for Detroit, you heard the same “Motor City Can’t” peanut gallery. Roger Penske, as well as many others, proved them wrong.

Detroit came very close to success for the bid of the 1968 Olympics. Second place to Mexico City.

I’ll fully admit this is pie-in-the-sky, possibly impossible, but let’s play futurist. Dare to dream Detroit. How could an Olympics in Detroit work?

Let’s keep in mind a Detroit Olympics would really be a Michigan Olympics. A Pure Michigan Olympics, if you will (with probably a touch of our friends in Windsor thrown in. It is South Detroit, after all). Sites would be all over the state, and lest we forget Michigan offers some of the best outdoor real estate in the country. For the London games there were event sites all over England (which has about the same land area as our state). Not to mention … the Olympic Games would not be next week. It would be 11 years from now, and a lot can happen in that time.

Look no further than Atlanta, the host of 1996 Olympics and a city still on the rise in terms of population, economy and pride.

Atlanta benefited more than any other city in the history of the Olympics,” said A.D. Frazier, the chief operating officer for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. “Afterward, we had no debt and we left behind a legacy of privately funded structures the city would not have seen otherwise.”

The naysayers will simply scroll down the list of requirements and say Detroit can’t possibly make the grade. I disagree.

In the Detroit Metro Region alone there are more than 42,000 hotel rooms. If we include Essex County (Windsor) as well as the new ones coming online the number of beds exceeds the 45,000 mark set out, not counting possible new investment.

If Detroit is rich in one thing it is space and manpower. Much like Atlanta’s Centennial Park, at one time a 21-acre sore spot of blight that was transformed into the crown jewel of their Games, Detroit is limitless in its space for growth. Belle Isle could be a hotbed for athletic activity.

A renovated Cobo Hall is an ideal spot to serve as a hub for the more than 15,000 journalists and members of the media who descend upon the Summer Games every four years.

Looking for an International Airport serving thousands of people a day? Not a problem with 145 gates, and six jet runways, the Detroit Metro Airport is a more than ample provider for the thousands of people trying to get to their favorite event on time. Yes, we need to get the transit thing worked out, but sometimes, people do better on deadlines.

Detroit Olympic bid 2024As to the long-term impact, the reality is the Feds probably aren’t coming with a bucket of money for Detroit’s fiscal woes. But people do rally behind things like the Olympics from all sectors. The jobs would be great for the economy.

Here’s where we can do things differently. There are stories of the remnants left over in Olympic Cities not being used to the maximum or being left vacant. What if we built the new facilities with an eye toward reuse and the future? Maybe raise money for endowments so that Detroit’s kids always have a place to play. The Olympic Village could have a life beyond the two weeks of the games. Imagine adding at least 16,500 more people to the greater downtown Detroit area.

What about funding? Detroit, the city, is in crisis, after all. This is a billion-dollar proposition. That said, it seems companies, the federal government and others (rightly or wrongly) are more apt to open up their pocketbooks for an event like this than direct aid.

What if we don’t get the Olympics? How about the Pan Am Games. Or did you know Detroit already partnered with Windsor to get the 2016 FINA Swimming World Championships?

It takes focus to bring people together. Yes, the Olympic idea may seem ridiculous. But it might just be the kind of ridiculous goal the city, region, state and country could use to come together. With the recent success of Cobo, the Detroit Zoo and the DIA, the time has come that people in Michigan realize that a regional approach is the superhighway for success.

I know I’ve missed something. There are ideas better than mine. Leave your (constructive) ideas in the comments!

3 comments on “A Detroit 2024 Olympics might have been the ridiculous goal Detroit needed

  1. The 68 bid had full financial backing of George Romney in the governor's office. Our governor doesn't like to fund anything for Detroit. Even with his EM malarkey, he isn't providing any funds. (Which is a big reason why it won't solve anything other than busting unions).

  2. Hell YEAH!!! Let us not forget about Summer X games!!!!! D is MORE THAN EQUIPPED to handle…

  3. I nominate Mike Duggan for executive director of the Detroit Olympic committee. I know he just announced for mayor but this would actually do the city more good.

    Detroit has so much open space a vast majority of events could, and should, be within city boundaries. Lake Placid had the distinction of being the most compact winter games ever. Detroit should aspire to the same for the summer games.

    Lastly, this effort needs some people with the certain kind of maturity that breads patience & tenacity. If 2024 is too soon, or looks like it won't possibly happen, try for 2028, or even 2032.

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