I love Philadelphia, but I guess it’s not a world-class city after all.
The worst part is that it wasn’t a New York Sports fan, a national magazine list, or a hack comedian who made me face that fact, but our own city leaders. That’s what stings the most about the news.
Mayor Michael Nutter, Comcast Executive David L. Cohen, et al, confirmed our standing when they announced that the city was withdrawing from the bidding process to host the 2024 Olympics. So we are not even going to try because we can’t compete with the big boy cities. Sigh.
The cost of the Olympics was cited as the major factor and it is true that the city is running a deep deficit with under-funded schools, pensions and city workers working without a contract. Also true is that the union stranglehold on the city and its politicians makes it nearly impossible to hold such an event. New venues and accommodations would have to be constructed and the cost and headaches of dealing with Philadelphia’s onerous union costs and regulations may be too much for private investors.
The cost was even too high for David L. Cohen and Philadelphia based mega-corporation Comcast, and they own NBC, the network that owns the rights to the Olympics through 2032. Comcast sees the Olympics as a great deal. The Olympics in Philadelphia? Not so much.
New York and Chicago also pulled out of the bidding process citing costs as a determining factor. But those cities don’t have the national image problems that Philadelphia has suffered for decades. When New York and Chicago pulled out, it was an opportunity; the time to step up, not bow out.
There is a very good chance that the 2024 Summer Olympics will be contested in an American City. By then, the United States will have endured a 28-year drought from hosting the Summer Games. The top remaining contenders are Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and Boston. That list will be narrowed to three by the end of the month. Look for one or two of the California cities to make the cut, joining either Dallas or Washington or both.
Each of the remaining cities has made the Olympics a matter of public pride. The Dallas 2024 web site blares, “The time has come for Dallas to embrace its status with world-class cities.”
I guess that means it is time for Philadelphia to accept that we are not.
It is fair to say that Philadelphia probably wouldn’t have been chosen anyway. We were seen as a long shot from the beginning of the process. It is also fair to say that pulling out of the Olympics process is not the problem, but a symptom of much bigger problems.
Still, being a Philadelphian has always meant trying your hardest against all odds. It is what we admire the most in our athletes, politicians, and each other. The only thing we can’t stomach is not trying.
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