Olympics in Pittsburgh?

Will gold roll into the Pittsburgh area with the blazing Olympic torch? Preposterous idea? Not according to the Mayor and the County Exec who suggest that the Olympic Committee’s request for bids be considered.

Let’s think about what this means. The Committee says the City (region) will have to come up with $3 billion and have 45,000 hotel rooms. That is now. What will be the price five years from now? Moreover, according to an official who keeps track of such things, the area will need 60,000 hotel rooms and there are currently only 24,000. How far out one has to cast the net to reach 24,000 rooms is not clear and, with no idea what many of the 24,000 look like, the notion that 60,000 will be ready by 2024 seems highly unlikely.

And three billion dollars? Where does that come from, Marcellus gas? For a City in financial distress, the notion seems incredible.

But one thing is for sure. Unless many more international flights and as well as more domestic destinations and flight origins are available in 2024 than there are currently at Pittsburgh International, the possibility for hosting an Olympiad is too remote to contemplate.

Then too, for the Olympic Games to be held in the Pittsburgh area, virtually every neighboring county would have to be involved offering sites for events. Soccer stadia, velodromes, tennis arenas, sailing venues, equestrian sites, kayaking sites, gymnastic arenas, etc. Massive amounts of land acquisition, infrastructure development and disruptions in many communities would be necessary.

There is a reason the summer Olympics games are held in large cities. There is more money, more people to be spectators, lots of hotel rooms, and bigger international airports with dozens of international routes.

Perhaps the Mayor and the Chief Exec are planning to grow Pittsburgh back to where it was 60 years ago. Then too, Philadelphia got the same Olympic Committee letter and that area is many times larger than the Pittsburgh area in terms of population and money and has a much busier international airport. It will be interesting to see how eager they are to bid and if they do how will Pittsburgh compete with them.