Tribune Reports Olympic Claims of Benefit Just Another Soap Bubble

Steve Chapman reports online the results of a recent economic study by scholars from the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. These authors confirm what No Games has said from the beginning, namely that grandiose claims of economic benefits from producing the Olympics is just another soap bubble manufactured by the 2016 Committee and blown at the tax payers of Chicago.  Only this one has burst.

Supporters of the Chicago 2016 Olympics bid claim the games would be a big economic boost–both in tourism during and after the actual games and through the construction and other preparations that would take place in the next seven years. What they don’t publicize is that most economists who have looked at such events say we shouldn’t believe the hype. A new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research reconfirms that conclusion.

Andrew Rose of the Haas School of Business Administration at the University of California, Berkeley and Mark Spiegel of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco review the studies and report: “The costs of holding such events seem considerable. Further, any enduring benefits derive mostly from infrastructure investments that the host city could choose to make independently of the games.”

They go on: “Much of the spending on the event by local citizens is a substitute from a different leisure activity or consumption good, rather than true additional spending. Moreover, the projects associated with the games typically seem to be white elephants, such as poorly-used sporting facilities associated with idiosyncratic Olympic sports, or hotels and transportation infrastructure built to accommodate a one-time peak demand of just three weeks.”

They document one odd, surprising benefit: Countries that host the Olympics see their exports rise substantially. But countries that merely bid unsuccessfully for the games get the same boost.

In Chicago, we can assume, some people favored by City Hall will make a lot of money off the deal. But the rest of us have about as much chance of realizing an economic benefit as we do of winning the pole vault.

Come on, Chicago, wise up. Say “NO!” to the 2016 bid. Visit our TAKE ACTION page and take some action.


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