Games can be costly to host, but economic benefits are sizable

The City must prove its financial mettle by putting $20 million into an escrow account by next March if it hopes to be the nation’s contender for the 2016 Summer Olympics, Mayor Gavin Newsom told The Examiner this week.

“There are some high thresholds here, and that means a lot of fundraising,” Newsom said. “I told Peter [Ueberroth, the chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee], ‘If we can raise the equivalent of $18 million for a 50-employee stem-cell institute, I’m not worried about $20 million on behalf of the United States.’”

For the five U.S. cities that are vying to be the host of the international games, the request is a reminder that Olympic prestige comes with a price.

For its previous, unsuccessful domestic bid for the 2012 games, San Francisco spent more than $4 million. For its unsuccessful international bid for the same games, New York City reportedly invested more than $30 million, only to lose out to London.

Although U.S. Olympic Committee officials have told the potential host cities that any Olympic bid must be financed privately, with no taxpayer money involved, that requirement does not extend to the cost of staging the games, which can cost billions of dollars.

City officials are expecting a $2.5 billion cost if San Francisco is chosen to host the Olympics, said the head of The City’s exploratory committee, Scott Givens, who promised that much of that amount would be funded through private contributions or reimbursed through ticket revenues.

Hosting the Olympics also promises to bring revenue into a city through the tourism and increased business the games create. When Los Angeles hosted the 1984 Olympics, the economic benefit was calculated at more than $3 billion. About 37,500 new jobs were created and an equal amount of existing employees received additional income, according to economic reports.

Then there are the intangible rewards, said Newsom, who called the Olympic bidding process “ennobling.”

Previous Summer Olympics

Summer Game locations for the past 40 years, along with cities awarded 2008 and 2012 games.

1968 Mexico City

1972 Munich

1976 Montreal

1980 Moscow

1984 Los Angeles

1988 Seoul

1992 Barcelona

1996 Atlanta

2000 Sydney

2004 Athens

2008 Beijing

2012 London

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