Chicago’s business weekly dumps cold water on the over-inflated and unsupported claims of Olympic economic benefits. As noted local economist Allen Sanderson says, “It’s a party, not an economic investment.”
Mayor Richard M. Daley’s prediction that the 2016 Olympics would give Chicago’s economy a $22.5-billion boost vastly overstates the likely benefits of hosting the games, experts say.”That’s crazy,” says Victor Matheson, a professor of economics at College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts who has studied the economic impact of the Olympics. “Anyone using this $22.5-billion number as justification to vote for the Olympics is being led down the garden path.”
The figure far exceeds estimated benefits in forecasts prepared by other cities that have sought the games. Atlanta, for example, figured the games it hosted in 1996 would produce an economic jolt of just $7 billion in 2009 dollars.
Similarly, the Chicago Olympics bid committee’s prediction that the 2016 games would create 315,000 jobs over 11 years is more than four times the jobs estimate for Atlanta.
No Games is well aware of Prof. Matheson’s work and we posted material about him on March 2 of this year. His report, “Mega-Events: The effect of the world’s biggest sporting events onlocal, regional, and national economies” is available for download as a PDF file from the Box.net widget on the lower right side of our home page. This report concludes with this statement:
The most important piece of advice that a local government can take regarding megaevents, however, is simply to view with caution any economic impact estimates provided by entities with a incentive to provide inflated benefit figures. While most sports boosters claim that mega-events provide host cites with large economic returns, these same boosters present these figures as justification for receiving substantial public subsidies for hosting the games. The vast majority of independent academic studies of mega-events show the benefits to be a fraction of those claimed by event organizers.