There’s no point in denying it, the 2010 Winter Olympics are a bust. Transportation systems are blocked by protestors, spectator stands are melting away and countless delays are ruining the two weeks that millions wait four years to watch.
There’s no point in denying it, the 2010 Winter Olympics are a bust. Transportation systems are blocked by protestors, spectator stands are melting away and countless delays are ruining the two weeks that millions wait four years to watch. While Vancouver, British Columbia, is choking on the world stage, I would like to take this opportunity to submit my bid for Portland as a viable option for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Our slogan could be “Portland—you’ve done worse.”
It wouldn’t be right to insult Canada as I sit here eating mac ‘n’ cheese on my chesterfield with my pet beaver, Lemieux. I love Canada from the top of my toque to the soles of my lumberjack boots. But seeing how poorly the games are being handled made me think—why not have them here?
Vancouverites clearly don’t want it as much as the rest of the country. On Feb. 13, protesters of the Olympics ran through the streets of downtown Vancouver smashing windows, spray painting buildings and overturning newspaper boxes. The last time Portland had a riot for something other than a Voodoo doughnut, it was against a war, not a sporting event.
Mayor Sam Adams wants to mold Portland into a world-class city and the Olympics are just what he needs. The International Olympic Committee and their strict timeline could put pressure on the government to push through improvement and restructuring projects that would otherwise be caught up in endless debates. The $4 billion Columbia River Crossing project is one of them. As one of the largest public works projects in the region’s history, its importance would be scrutinized and a decision would be made on whether or not the money could be better spent elsewhere.
Vast city improvements would be a great boost for Portland’s economy. Our suffocating construction industry would probably benefit the most if careful precautions were taken. There is always the danger of losing jobs once the games are finished. Vancouver, following Australia’s example in the 2000 Summer Olympics, is postponing government-funded infrastructure projects to coincide with the ending of Games construction, prolonging the boom and ensuring that local companies benefit the most from the international competition.
The economic boom does not begin and end with the Olympics either. After the conclusion of the 2000 Games in Australia, the city of Sydney was able to attract 214 new international companies. That means more jobs, more growth and a greater international presence.
Investing in the games is another matter. Montreal was nearly bankrupted after the 1976 Olympics. Since then, Olympic committees and host cities have done a pretty good job of diffusing the financial responsibility between regional and federal governments and corporate sponsorships. The only thing left to do would be to find a local corporation or two that would benefit from sponsoring the games. I’m sure Nike and Columbia Sportswear would have a tiny bit of interest in funding a winter sporting event.
The Olympics also serve as a platform for cities to send a message to communities around the world. Portland’s will most likely be the importance of sustainability. Instead of a huge Olympic cauldron behind a chain link fence, Portland would have immense solar panels in the shape of a bicycle. All of the stadiums would be LEED certified, of course. Medals would be awarded in LEED gold, silver and bronze.
Mt. Hood is an obvious draw for Portland. It’s just 70 miles out of the city and boasts six unique ski areas, including the world’s only year-round lift and the second-largest night skiing area.
When it comes to indoor events like hockey and figure skating, Portland has world-class facilities also. The indoor rinks at Lloyd Center and Clackamas Town Center are superb. The fluid grace of Meryl Davis and Charlie White would only, and could only, be improved by a Hotdog on a Stick and an Orange Julius. I wish I were joking. Tonya Harding, a Portland native, used to practice her triple lutz at the Clackamas Town Center in front of onlookers who had to choose between watching an Olympic athlete or getting fresh, hot rolls from Cinnabon.
Mayor Adams should know that Portland is already a world-class city. The Portland Olympics would only serve to express that to the world. In a battle between Seattle, Wash., Vancouver and Portland, there’s no doubt that we would grab the gold.