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City officials ponder if Austin Olympics bid is a good idea

Friday, February 22, 2013 by Michael Kanin

Mayor Lee Leffingwell had not yet received a letter yesterday that is supposedly on its way asking if Austin wants to apply to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, but he was not ready to jump on the bandwagon. On Wednesday, USA Today named 35 cities that were being asked by the International Olympic Committee if they would like to apply.

 

The estimated cost of applying is $10 million, but the Statesman reported that Chicago may have spent $100 million only to lose to Rio de Janeiro.

 

Nevertheless, Leffingwell remained diplomatic saying it was an honor to be asked. Noting that the city does not have 45,000 hotel rooms and that Austin’s summertime climate might not be conducive to the summer games, he said “we owe it to everybody to get some more information.”

 

His colleagues were less reserved.

 

“Who the hell thought of that?” asked Council Member Bill Spelman. “I think it’s a dumb idea.”

 

Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, who likes to look at the bottom line as much as anyone, said, “I do not believe that we have the infrastructure to accommodate the Olympics. And I question our ability to make that type of investment and receive an adequate return.”

 

Council Member Laura Morrison said, “Austin? In July or August, are you kidding me?”

 

Thursday, the Austin Business Journal asked readers this question: “Should Austin invest the millions of dollars it will take to bid on the 2024 Olympics?” By 5:30pm, 67 percent of 220 people responding to the unscientific poll said Austin should not make that investment.

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