An impressive harbor and bay, mountains covered in lush foliage, athletes converging on a world-class city. That could sound like Seattle, but the media coverage for the next few weeks is going to be focused on Rio, the host city of the 2016 Summer Olympics.
But, what if it did happened here?
Photo: Joe Muller
The idea of hosting the Olympics isn't new. With our varied geography, temperate climate, extensive infrastructure, and world-wide appeal, we could certainly host the games, possibly without having to add much in the way of stadiums and venues. The Seahawks, Sounders, and Mariners have proved we can accommodate crowds for the team sports (as long as we're all patient with the parking and the traffic.) The colleges and universities add extra capacity, especially for the smaller events. We regularly run marathons, bicycle races, regattas, and rowing competitions. There might be a need for an extra stadium or two, which is handy because the Eastside continues to talk about adding something, somehow, and maybe it's time to remodel the Arena yet again. If we need more, just head a bit north and south to include Bellingham down to Tacoma. Spread it out.
There are two good reasons we haven't hosted the Games. 1) More than once, polls and votes of Seattle residents have turned down the opportunity. That's understandable because the Games usually cost more than they're worth. And 2) The Olympic committee said no, which is kind of an important consideration.
Ah, but if they did happen...
Folks in Pioneer Square are already ready because they're training with every national football, soccer, and baseball game.
Waterfront properties would have front row seats to rowing and sailing competitions, like expanded versions of the Duck Dodge and the Windermere Cup.
Track and field already happens at UW, with the Seattle Marathon having established routes for years. Line the course through some very nice neighborhoods.
Bicyclists can congregate at the Redmond Velodrome, or along whichever route Cascade Bicycle Club might suggest. The longer routes are naturals for sweeping through the suburbs or lapping our lakes.
Are there other events? Sure. And, we can probably accommodate them. But we won't.
At least for a few weeks, rentals could charge much higher rates, as if that was possible.
Photo: Joe Muller
And yet we will. Seattle is actually going to host the Olympics in 2018, the Special Olympics USA Games. "Hosted at some of the region’s top athletic facilities including the University of Washington, King County Aquatics Center and Federal Way’s Celebration Park". One advantage Seattle provides is a welcoming of diversity and an environment of inclusion. The games won't be as large, but maybe that's okay and just about right.
As for the Winter Olympics, we do have some mountains to play with, and one entire range already has the right name.
· Special Olympics USA Games [SOUG]
· A Seattle Olympics? [Crosscut]
· Seattle takes first step toward hosting 2024 Summer Olympics [SPI]