Though the games are over, the memories of the 2012 Olympics remain with me. From Phelps winning his last gold medal to being left awestruck by a Bolt out of the blue. Then there was this ESPN article.
As fun as it was to get a chuckle and some pride in the attention, it got me thinking. Why not Cleveland?
What if Cleveland were to pony up for the Games?
First issue that comes to mind is cost. London’s bill is around $14 billion as of right now. Athens and Greece as a whole are still struggling with the cost of 2004. Cleveland already has its share of financial worries. Taking on that burden may break the city.
But the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. Could an international event such as the Olympics be a game-changer for Cleveland?
So let’s go with a 2032 timeline, for argument’s sake, and look at this in three parts: before, during, and after.
Cleveland would have major work to do over twenty years time. Infrastructure would need to be updated and improved. Three train lines wouldn’t work for the traffic coming through. The airport would need work, as well as roads and hotels.
The biggest construction would be event venues. At that time, the Jake, the Q, and Browns Stadium will be over 30 years old…ancient as far as stadiums go. A collaborative effort could be made for the basketball arena and Olympic stadium. An aquatic center, velodrome, and smaller venues would need to be built or planned with existing sites. An Olympic village would need to be created as well, plus an IBC.
This all brings us to location. Where could an Olympic park be put?
With all the construction and planning, the buzz will build for Cleveland. The world will look toward our city in anticipation of the event.
Finally the event will come. Imagine watching a sailing or rowing competition on Lake Erie. The marathon striding through Public Square. Mountain biking in the CVNP. The top athletes will compete for glory while people from around the world cheer them on. Cleveland, not a tourist city on par with New York or London, will welcome these visitors.
For the billions watching at home, international broadcasters will show shots of the city and the venues for all to see. And of course Bob Costas and Mary Carillo will talk about the sights, sounds, and tastes of Cleveland.
Two weeks, the eyes of the world will be on the city. Two weeks, the world will see what Cleveland can do.
When the glamour of the Games ends, we really see how Cleveland did. Legacy. Most important in a truly successful hosting. How did playing host to the world change the city for the better?
If done right, the venues will all have uses after. The Olympic Village will be incorporated into a revitalization plan. The Olympic park will become a draw for locals and out-of-towners alike. Like London, a new neighborhood could be born spurring development.
World-class venues can be used to encourage local youth in their own Olympic dreams. They can also be used as leverage in attracting other major competitions. Track or swimming World Championships maybe. Olympic qualifiers even.
Infrastructure improvements will be a lasting benefit for locals. So will the pure pride in being an Olympic host city.
All the building will create jobs. That plus the money from visitors will aid the local economy. Come up with some agreements with organizations like U.S.A. Swimming or the USATF and more jobs can be added.
Cleveland 2032? Well, nothing’s impossible. Like any Olympic bid, hosting is never guaranteed. There are still many problems to be solved, and who knows what the area will be facing in ten or fifteen years. But if the city were to pull it off, with proper foresight, an event this big could leave a positive influence on Cleveland for a long time.