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Toronto mulls an Olympic bid once again

Posted by Derek Flack / January 14, 2014

Toronto OlympicsToronto is poised, once again, to consider whether or not the city should make a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics. There hasn't been too much talk about hosting the Games since Mayor Rob Ford shot down rumblings about a 2020 bid over three years ago, but in the interim the city commissioned Ernst & Young to produce a feasibility report on a 2024 bid, which will finally go before the economic development committee on Monday.

You'd have to think that the idea of making a run for 2024 will face significant opposition. While the report lays out some of the obvious benefits of hosting the Olympics -- most notably the increase in Toronto's global brand, cultural capital, and provision of new infrastructure -- the costs associated with bidding are themselves exorbitant (upwards of $60 million), not to mention what the Games would cost should the bid be successful (which could reach almost $7 billion).

The Olympic dream is a stubborn one in Toronto, bolstered perhaps by previous bids for both the 1996 and 2008 Games. But even as Rob Ford's wings have been clipped at City Hall, this is a place where the fiscal responsibility remains a major buzz word, and that's not the best environment for embarking on costly Olympic bids.

What do you think? Is now a good time to go after the Olympics once again?



Steven / January 14, 2014 at 08:34 am
Rob Ford is still mayor, wings clipped or not and is running again for the next municipal election.

Let's wait and see if the city can pull off the Pan Am Games next year.

Councillors such as Adam Vaughan will come out of the closet screaming 'HE' (not his constituents) doesn't want the Olympics in the city. Just watch him on this. This is why he'll never be mayor. He must understand, this will be a bonus to the city, GTA, province, country and the world.

As always, what will be the cost of the Olympics? If the Pan Am Games is a financial success, then make serious consideration for the Olympics.

EJam / January 14, 2014 at 08:43 am
Cultural capital? Give me a break. I don't want to live in a city that believes it gets ahead by spending billions of dollars on a sporting even before spending billions of dollars on transit, health care, social housing, etc etc. Imagine if the city committed to spending that kind of money on various projects that would ACTUALLY improve the livability of the city for a majority of of people.

And, let's be real, even though Ford might be against the Olympics he's not going to turn around and suggest reinvesting that kind of money in social projects. Let's get some real leadership at city hall!
BillyO / January 14, 2014 at 08:59 am
There are pros and cons to hosting, but one good thing would be fast tracking of infrastructure projects like the downtown relief line, all day GO (and even better regional express for Kitchener/Lakeshore lines) as well as some landmark public amenities after the games.

Unfortunately the cost remains the biggest hurdle, requiring all three governments to pitch in. Since bids wouldn't go in until well after 2015 (bye bye Harper, hello JT?) I'd imagine federally and municipally they'd be one board. The province? Not so much
chester / January 14, 2014 at 09:06 am
Screw the Olympics. I'd rather aim for the World Cup in 2026 as they have mentioned they wanted it before. Spread the cost and infrastructure over many cities, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg. Instead of an Olympics bankrupting our city.
iSkyscraper / January 14, 2014 at 09:09 am
I seriously doubt Toronto could win the Games, but I have enormous respect for how making a bid can organize planning and overcome inertia in a fractious city.

Look at New York -- they never got the 2012 Olympics, but in the process of preparing for it they thought hard about waterfronts, rezoning and transit and managed to pull off many of the urban redevelopment projects even though they did not win the Games. This sort of exercise is useful in a big city every few decades and Toronto would benefit from it.

bob / January 14, 2014 at 09:12 am
I think Toronto should host the World Cup Soccer before hosting the Olympics.
jaaaaat / January 14, 2014 at 09:14 am
i am seeing a lot of net losses here.
not worth it, and not worth hosting a 'game' as corrupt as the olympics.

lets spend money on small-grain cultural capital.
"sports" is not culture.
jaaaaaaat replying to a comment from bob / January 14, 2014 at 09:21 am
world cup soccer only goes to where they can get the most bribes. I.E. the most corrupt city. Rio, Qatar . . . for recent examples.

Besides, soccer is not a world sport anymore - its best played in its professional private leagues. The new yorker calls this world cup "the last world cup"
Tony / January 14, 2014 at 09:22 am
The costs would be in the range of $15 billion and residents would be saddle with huge debt afterwards. The Olympics make the IOC rich along with their multi national corp sponsors. Dont believe for 1 minute that the Olympics are a benefit to any city. Just look at all of the crumbling buildings that were built in other cities that have not been used since.
chester replying to a comment from jaaaaaaat / January 14, 2014 at 09:45 am
Soccer not a world sport???!!! Are you on rock bud? And you're getting soccer info from the New Yorker??!! Thats like going to a humanities course taught by Charles Manson.

Soccers alive and well it the World Cup will not be going anywhere. Regardless of the corruption in hosting the event at the end of the day it all comes down to the sport and the game itself. Two teams will battle it out to be the best in the world there is nothing corrupt about that, that why we love sports.
SammyBrown / January 14, 2014 at 10:10 am
Can we get a Hack to redesign the Olympic logo? Preferably something Metallic and 3D would be cool.
Jason Paris / January 14, 2014 at 10:15 am
I'm not particularly pro-Olmypics, but Toronto's strange position of creating money that senior governments refuse to give back could be changed by a successful bid. Strings would be loosened to spend on much-needed infrastructure (i.e, Downtown Relief Line, all day GO service on all lines, etc.) Of course, there's also the possibility it would be spent of the wrong infrastructure, but assuming many of the events are in the Portlands and Exhibition Place, it would be hard to go wrong.
Astin / January 14, 2014 at 10:27 am
While I'm not a supporter of a Toronto Olympics, 2024 might be the last year where we could potentially keep costs down a bit. With the Pan-Am games coming, a bunch of facilities will still be around 9 years later that could be potentially renovated instead of rebuilt for the Olympics.

That said, the argument for BIDDING is a bit stronger. The '96 and 2008 bids were both big pushes for waterfront development, and showed that all three levels of government could conceivably work together to improve the city. While what actually resulted is less than what was promised if the bids were successful, it's still an improvement. A viewpoint of what to fix and how to fix it outside of the politics of city council every few years wouldn't hurt.
Andres / January 14, 2014 at 10:59 am
yes, get on it. while it may throw toronto into debt, this will require the funding of the federal and provincial gov allowing the city to fund the DRL, LRT expansion and waterfront development, along with putting an effective deadline rather than the open-ended timeline we have now. which in the case of many of the projects this city needs, will probably never even happen, or at least to the level that we want it to. so i say fucking DO IT. plus, with proper planning, olympic facilities can easily be converted into public, sport or institutional use afterwards, like maybe a home for toronto's future NFL team? come on, so much potential.
Simon / January 14, 2014 at 11:02 am
When will people learn? EVERY city that hosts the Olympics ends up billions of dollars in debt, a transit system ground to a halt by overcrowding, burdened with white elephant sports arenas that sit empty 363 days a year, and its citizens faced with a slew of new human rights abuses in the name of security, whether it's installing anti-aircraft batteries on the roofs of private homes and putting troops in the streets in the case of London or forcibly displacing people to build venues in the case of Vancouver. So we get some new infrastructure, so what? We need new infrastructure anyways; if the government needs to throw a $7-billion party to build the downtown relief line and to finally get off their ass and start laying track for light rail after nearly a decade of saying "It's ready in a couple years, honest", then they're not doing their job, and we as citizens need to hold their feet to the fire. Most likely the new infrastructure wouldn't be the infrastructure we've been needing for decades but some toy-train joke of a monorail system running between a couple of new stadiums and a shopping mall. The Olympics are a white elephant and a complete farce. Be honest with yourselves-- you don't give a shit about diving or equestrian or velodrome cycling. Nobody does except the people who play them. That's their hobby. Don't get caught up in the hype.
Craig / January 14, 2014 at 11:06 am
If anyone doubts the ability of hosting an Olympics to transform a city in an enormously positive way, just visit Barcelona. The '92 Olympics took it from an industrial dump to a truly world class city. Montreal was an aberration.
Astin replying to a comment from Craig / January 14, 2014 at 11:40 am
And Barcelona is about the only example.

Albertville? Lillehammer? Nagano? Torino? Are they now world-class cities because of the Winter Games?

Athens is doing super-awesome. Did the Sydney Olympics make a significant positive change to Sydney? Beijing now has a bunch of empty hotels and stadiums that are crumbling, and that was only 5 1/2 years ago. Has London benefited from being a host in a way that it wouldn't have simply by being London? A case could be made for the '96 games jumpstarting Atlanta's growth, but there are those who would question the social cost of its gentrification.

Maybe The Olympics should be held in Detroit by your logic. Take a city that needs massive reinvestment and rebuilding and put the funds there, subsidized by federal governments and private corporations to minimize the local public costs. Putting the games in an already established major city doesn't seem to serve much of a long-term purpose for the costs involved.
DL / January 14, 2014 at 12:33 pm
If Toronto can produce a bid like Madrid did last year, in that most venues were already built and construction would only be required on things like an Athletes Village and city beautification projects, sure why not? If a place like BMO Field is expanded privately to the capacity and stature required of an Olympic stadium, this could work. But if they think they're going to throw $10 billion+ into hosting a 3 week event, they have another thing coming.
Suicide_Boi / January 14, 2014 at 01:14 pm
Make our lives less miserable, THEN consider an Olympic bid.
canuckone / January 14, 2014 at 01:30 pm
I'm not a fan of the modern day Olympic corporation and I doubt holding them in Toronto will help re-brand the current brand: The City With A Crack Mayor. Toronto is so far behind on infrastructure projects that throwing an Olympic size carnival on top of the heap is a no brainer. No fu65ing way!
Everywhere I travel - when I say I am from Toronto - people chuckle and ask "Isn't that the city where the mayor smokes crack and keeps his job?"
Khristopher / January 14, 2014 at 01:31 pm
Yes, I think this would be great. It would mean we can finally get the infrastructure we need. Show off our awesome city, and have fun doing it.
Linden / January 14, 2014 at 01:36 pm
noooooo, Toronto does not need this.I cannot take anymore of construction, trafic, congestions, obstracted side walkes. Vancouver spent 6 billion for 2010 Olympic games,Sochi-50 billion; who knows how much would this cost for Toronto. Just do what a true world class city like Vienna did, and do not bid for any games.
Qaf / January 14, 2014 at 05:02 pm
Toronto cannot even commit to a decision on whether or not to build damn subway, we are far too dysfunctional for the Olympics. If you think the Olympics would fast-track our infrastructure, I'll bet you an airport that council would hold a series of meetings before ultimately deciding to defer a decision on whether or not to open a study on the feasibility of one tiny portion of the transit system. And then cancel the study OR after having the study, perhaps order a report studying the study.
Jeff replying to a comment from Qaf / January 14, 2014 at 05:22 pm
We can even get the SAM THE RECORD MAN sign back up!!
Solomon Short / January 14, 2014 at 07:36 pm
God, this shit again? Haven't we learned anything from Montreal's example? Or from anybody else that hosted this corporate kleptocrat cash-grab? We don't need this bullshit to make Toronto better.

This book should make people see sense about how fucked up the Olympics has become: (and the books mention here that are also by the same author:
Devon / January 14, 2014 at 09:46 pm
As much as I'd love for Toronto to host the Olympics, this is really jumping the gun. I'm doubtful the city can prepare for a worldwide event in just ten years. It took the city longer to implement a sustainable transit we even have the proper leadership to pull this off? It took ten years to decide LRT vs. Subways ....yet Toronto expects to plan AND build for the Olympics in the same amount of time. We can't even build our subways on time for the Pan Am Games. If this even get executed, it's gonna be a giant mess.
Roxy / January 14, 2014 at 09:51 pm
No. Never.
Matt / January 14, 2014 at 09:57 pm
No thanks. I wish this city would just move on and stop making a play for this. We have enough infrastructure problems and never ending construction around this city already. We're scrambling and rushing every construction project to host the pan am games which are nowhere near the size of the Olympics.

We need to fix this city first and get it to a point where it can support the people that live here before attempting to host an event that will inject millions of others.
Alexander / January 14, 2014 at 09:59 pm
7 billion, that's a joke right? Sochi is going to cost 51 billion...FIFTY ONE BILLION...sure we don't have Russia level corruption but count on 20 billion minimum...which Toronto might pay off by 2050.

There are no pro's here...huge expense...stadiums we neither need nor want...gridlock and insanity during the games...
Garneau / January 14, 2014 at 10:57 pm
Do it. The city is long overdue to host. Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, have all had their time in the limelight. Run it right, like they did in Vancouver, and come away with an awesome legacy for this fantastic city.
JP / January 15, 2014 at 04:03 am
FYI - the 51 Billion in costs at Sochi is largely due to some seriously sketchy Putin antics:

JP / January 15, 2014 at 04:04 am
Have to agree with a lot of the commenters.

It's sad we can't just build infrastructure and transit simply because we need it, but evidently we have trouble with that.

So if it fast tracks a DRL, the electrification of the Go Line, and gives us an NFL stadium as bonus? OK. I'd be for it.

Sam / January 15, 2014 at 07:30 am
Just to put in the bid and create the plan costs money we dont have. I wonder how much time and $$ was wasted on previous bids.

Gayle / January 15, 2014 at 08:44 am
Stintz and Byford cant even properly launch the Presto Pass for the TTC I wouldnt get my hopes up for any transit improvements.
Urbane / January 15, 2014 at 09:16 am
NO. Where will we get the money from? We couldn't even afford a spectacular New Year's Eve fireworks display like the world class cities did so where is that money going to come from? Yeah, our pockets be it metro money, provincial money or federal money - really our money three times. We get stuck with this huge bill while still paying off the Pan Am Games? I propose IQ tests for all mayoralty candidates with only geniuses being allowed on the ballot. Jees, what a bunch of maroons we have at the present.
Kelly / January 15, 2014 at 09:40 am
While I hate to think of what Olympic-sized crowds would do to this city, this might be the only way we get the subway (and other infrastructure) we so desperately need.
tommy / January 15, 2014 at 10:39 am
If we're going to do it, we have to do it NOW. Developing countries around the world are nipping at our heels and may soon overtake the western world. They will be the ones wanting the games, and it will become harder and harder to compete with stories like South Africa's World Cup in 2010.
Marc / January 15, 2014 at 12:32 pm
I really want them to, but i'm worried that Rob Ford will shoot this one down. Lots of people are bringing up the argument that Toronto may not be able to prepare in time, heck yes we would, the pan am games are coming next year and we're ready as ever. Not to mention those venues would most likely be implemented in 2024.

That being said, unfortunately it looks like the USA is in favour of winning them (IOC wants to kiss the USA's ass to regain their trust, pitifully sad to be honest). But I think it would be worth bidding for them - would boost the subways to be completed and get that mess out of the way in front of Union station. After all, the pan am to Olympic transition worked in Rio's favour for 2016, Toronto still has a chance. I sincerely hope we do bid, what an amazing games we would put on. And don't forget the crowds would only last 2 weeks!
Alex / January 15, 2014 at 04:08 pm
Yes, bid! Toronto already has a bunch of venues from Pan-Am so we wouldn't need to build that much. Plus Toronto needs more sporting venues. We have pitifully few arenas in a town that loves hockey as much as we do (though an amazing number of outdoor rinks) and we could find ways to use the rest. We're an obese country and we need to encourage participation in sports as much as possible. If we got the Olympics we should do a big build-up in the years before to encourage amateur athletics (since the Olympics is supposed to be about those). How about a few tournaments with teams divided by neighbourhood in various sports? The winning teams get free tickets to the opening ceremonies or something. All I've heard about the Pan-Am games has been how much it will cost. Nothing about the stadiums, and nothing to actually celebrate the sports themselves.

Plus we get a bunch of infrastructure we desperately need.
elena / January 15, 2014 at 11:39 pm
I can imagine all the traffic and cheos in the city. I'd better spend the money to fix the major citu issues including traffic and public transportation and then think about hosting them.
tommy / January 16, 2014 at 01:34 pm
Oh, and another thing. We'll have to be sure to set aside a large bribery budget to win, given the rumours that we lost 1996 and 2008 to bribery.
mw / January 16, 2014 at 10:43 pm
Why should Toronto host the World Cup of Soccer?
Canada isn't even ranked in the top 100 soccer nations in the world.

As for the Olympics...Let's see how these Pan Am games work out before we even so much as think about the Olympics.
Other Cities: Montreal