US bidders for the 2024 Olympics winnowed to Boston. DC temporarily escapes the drumbeat to pay for a new Redskins stadium.
Well, DC seems to have escaped, briefly, the drumbeat that will build to provide a publicly financed $1 billion stadium for the Washington Redskins ("New Year's Post #3: More thinking on "return on investment" from different types of sports facilities and DC, and an Olympics in DC") because the US Olympics Committee, choosing between Boston (official Olympics bid website), Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, chose Boston ("USOC taps Boston as 2024 bid city," Associated Press).
Not everyone is favorable. There is a No Boston Olympics advocacy effort. And a Boston Globe columnist wrote a piece ("All that glitters about Boston's Olympic bid isn't gold") questioning the value of the event:
The question is not whether Boston is capable of hosting the Olympics. It is. The question is whether it’s worth it. Does the benefit outweigh the potential logistical and financial pratfalls of hosting gym class for the world? Based on recent Olympic Games, the answer is probably not.
The Olympics rarely have a lasting, transformative impact on a city, unless you’re talking about the financial ramifications of the event and the planned obsolescence of venues with a 17-day lifespan. Barcelona, host of the 1992 Summer Games, was the exception, not the rule. ...
The Summer and Winter Olympics do create indelible memories, like the 1980 US Olympic hockey team’s implausible triumph in Lake Placid, N.Y., or Mary Lou Retton in the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles.
But most of the memories are as ephemeral as the Olympic flame, fading into the black almost as soon as the famed fire is extinguished.
The Olympics would have been an excuse to build a new stadium in DC--currently the Redskins play in Landover, Maryland--on the site of the currently decrepit RFK Stadium (aerial view at left).
Personally, I would rather that the overall complex be redeveloped in a somewhat mixed use fashion (there isn't really the demand for large scale office or retail space) but mostly with housing ("Wanted: A comprehensive plan for the "Anacostia River East" corridor").
That would benefit the city more economically and socially than a stadium used fewer than 15 times per year.
But the complications for redevelopment are many:
- The Washington Redskins need to be able to play jurisdictions against each other in order to extract the maximum amount of public funds.
- If DC redevelops this site, it doesn't have many other sites that could serve as alternatives. So the team will continue to lobby for relocating to DC, and it has the ear of the current Mayor and certain Councilmembers like Jack Evans and Vincent Orange.
- The site has environmental contamination issues, currently covered up by asphalted parking lots.
- There is a recreation easement on the full property--the parking lots support that use--which would have to be "extinguished," or bought out for a fee, paid to the National Park Service
- The Kennedy Family is enamored of Robert F. Kennedy being memorialized in the name of the stadium and are likely to oppose any plans to redevelop the site without a stadium and the Kennedy name.