Bucks Arena For Casino Proposal, Cost Of Hosting Olympics, “88 Days To Kandahar”

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Boston recently became a contestant to host the 2024 Olympic games, but is the multi-billion dollar price tag worth it? We explore the costs and benefits to hosting the Olympics, learn about a CIA director’s role in the War on Terror, and check out a proposal from the Menominee tribe that would fund a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks, in exchange for the go-ahead on a proposed casino in Kenosha.

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  • Sports Economist: Hosting Olympics Is An 'Economic Gamble'

    There’s only about a year and a half until the Summer Olympic Games kick off in Rio de Janeiro, but it seems many in the U.S. are already talking about the 2024 games.

    Last month, the U.S. Olympic Committee selected Boston as the country’s candidate city to host the 2024 games. The decision is generating a good deal of excitement, mixed with a measure of skepticism: Big-budget games, like the ones in Beijing and Sochi, after all, haven’t generated the long-term economic gains that are theoretically supposed to come with hosting the Olympics. That’s got many Boston residents asking: Is hosting the Olympics really worth it?

    It’s not a new question, but it’s one that seems to be asked more frequently as the cost of the games rises and support for public funding dwindles.

    “Since roughly 1997, there has been a declining number of cities (interested) in hosting either the winter or the summer games,” said Andrew Zimbalist, professor of economics at Smith College.

    He pointed specifically to the upcoming winter games in 2022, which has seen four out of six candidate cities drop their bids, mostly due to funding issues.

    “The only two cities that are left right now are Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Beijing, China, both of which have very serious problems as potential winter hosts,” Zimbalist said.

    In response, the International Olympic Committee has made changes to the bidding process, which is why the 2024 games have had a bit of an uptick in hosting interest. Rome is the only other city that has officially submitted a bid to host the 2024 games, though several other cities have expressed interest in bidding, including Paris and Budapest.

    Zimbalist also said that it’s not always the cities themselves that want the Olympics, but rather groups within cities who push hard for a bid to serve their specific interests — something he’s currently seeing with Boston.

    “There hasn’t been a political vote either in the City Council or the state Legislature to endorse the bid,” Zimbalist said. “The bid is being done by Boston 2024, a group of private industry executives who find it in their self-interest to have the games in Boston.”

    He cited big construction contracts as one example of the Olympics serving that self-interest.

    Zimbalist also said that the needs of a city often don’t mesh with the IOC’s requirements for a city, something that’s not often considered before making a bid.

    “Practically every single city that’s ever hosted the Olympics does not have a city plan before it develops its Olympic plan,” he said. “So a city decides to bid for the Olympics, and all of the structural changes and the investments that are being made, are being made in response to what the IOC requires. They’re not being made in response to what democratically elected planners or urban designers want to do with the city.”

    Then, there’s the balance between up-front spending and potential long-term gains.

    “To host the Olympics these days, you spend between $15-$20 billion,” Zimbalist said. “The amount of money that comes in from all of the Olympic sources during the 17 days of the games is about $3.5-4 billion. That’s a very bad financial balance, and the only way you can make that work, and the only way it can be justifiable, is if you get some long-term benefits from it.”

    That’s where things get murky, according to Zimbalist.

    “There’s a claim that’s always out there that you’ll get more tourism, more trade, more foreign investment — but the econometric studies don’t sustain that claim,” he said.

    The IOC will select the next Summer Olympics host city in 2017.

  • Menominee Tribe Proposes Funding For Bucks Arena, In Exchange For Kenosha Casino

    The Menominee tribe is proposing a contribution of $220 million toward the construction of a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks, in exchange for approval of a proposed casino in Kenosha. A reporter explains the proposal, and talks about the reaction its receiving so far.

  • Hosting The Olympics: Gold Medal Or Lead Weight For A Community?

    The U.S. is in the market to host another Olympic games, this time in Boston–but is it worth it for a city to chase the honor? An expert on sports and the economy weighs the costs and benefits of hosting the Olympics and other major sports tournaments.

  • Former CIA Director Of Counterterrorism Talks About Threats Past And Present

    Former CIA Director of Counterterrorism, and Islamabad Station Chief, Robert Grenier talks about terrorist threats past and present.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Chris Malina Producer
  • Galen Druke Producer
  • Andrew Zimbalist Guest
  • Gilman Halsted Guest
  • Robert Grenier Guest

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