2/11/2011

2024 Olympics In Philadelphia; Is It Possible?

Could Americas birthplace be the home of the 2024 Olympic Games?  Studies say it is possible, but not without some serious convincing and support from the regional business community.  Although Philadelphia lost the bid for the 2016 games, the city has already been putting itself in the position to be considered a world class city, with Philly 2015 efforts to green the city and further ambitions to become America's greenest city by 2035, the new City Zoning Code, the new Delaware River Master Plan, and a proposed 2015 construction date for the first phase of high-speed rail between Philadelphia and New York.



Larry Needle, executive director of the Philadelphia Sports Congress, a division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, said if Philadelphia wants to host the olympics, its earliest realistic chance would be the 2024 Summer Games.  A study conducted by eleven graduate students from the University of Pennsylvania's city and regional planning department showed that Philadelphia should consider bidding for the 2024 Games.

Bidding cities typically would start the process about ten years before the games.  The process includes persuading the business community to finance an initial bid that could cost $10 million to $15 million.  The students' study said among the city's biggest challenges would be convincing the voters who select the host city that Philadelphia is a "world-class-city", a feat that would require strategic changes in the city's landscape in conjunction with a persuasive marketing strategy.


A big challenge for Philadelphia would be cleaning up its trash.  This goes far beyond its streets and transit stations, although in the city's defense I don't think the streets and stations are too bad.  On arrival to the city from the Philadelphia International Airport, visitors are greeted from the air by tours of abandoned oil tanks, derelict structures, and tons of waste.  When arriving by train at 30th Street Station travelers pass through trash strewn, crumbling railroad corridors, lined with abandoned buildings and ware houses.

What lies in Philadelphia's favor is its location.  It is in the middle of a growing densely populated mega-region, known as the North East Corridor home to over 49 million residents and 18% of the U.S. population stretching from Boston to Washington.  By the time of the Olympic Games the population is predicted to grow to 58 million.  This of course is cause for great investment on infrastructure improvements to regional city to city connections.  There are also many programs underway that would contribute to the long-term bid effort.




The city already has a good infrastructure to support the games, minor improvements and additional stations and connections may have to be addressed.  There are countless resources between the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and Villanova University.  There is ample land for the Olympic Village above the rail yards at 30th street or at the Navy Yard which is minutes away from a well organized sports complex.  The Schuylkill River is a great place for water sports and additional events could be expanded to the Delaware and Camden Waterfronts.  The city is home to three major stadiums and a future soccer stadium down the road in Chester, PA.  New Facilities will have to be built, but this could mean healthy development and use of the sports complex and Navy Yard.  An event of this scale is very possible with a great amount of regional support.


Philadelphia is also a proposed site for a 2026 World Exhibition, planned to fall on the 250th Birthday of the United States.  The city is the site of the former 1876 Centennial Exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of the nation's birth. The 250th anniversary offers a fresh opportunity for Philadelphia to host an international exposition.