Saturday, February 24, 2007

Olympic Costs Spiral, Sun Rises In The East.

When even the Kenyan and Somali press consider the UK's wastefulness worthy of comment you know that we have a disaster on our hands. London 2012 would have been a mistake even if it was likely that we would build it on time, the principle justification used by the advocates is that the Games will be used for urban regeneration. This argument is nonsensical, if east London needed improved transport links what was stopping the work being done before now?

Since when does an area regenerate by evicting hundreds of small businesses employing thousands of people and replacing them with large sports facilities like an athletics stadium, an aquatic centre and a velodrome which will lie unused for most of the year and even when they do get dusted down they will never be filled to capacity again once the games finish? When Ken Livingstone is in charge I guess. American sports economists such as Andrew Zimbalist have looked into the claimed economic benefits of publicly subsidised baseball stadiums in the US and found that the benefits seldom if ever materialise, this is despite the fact that Major League Baseball grounds are full close to capacity 80 to 100 times a year, which is around 80 to 100 times more often than the Olympic stadium will be.

Still it isn't as if the government could have predicted that this Grand Project would be a disaster after all their experiences with the Millenium Dome, Wembley, the Scottish Parliament building, the Royal Opera House, Sadlers Wells and Picketts Lock had been so positive.

On a vaguely related note check out the Field of Schemes blog which documents the efforts of American sports oligarchs to extort publicly funded stadiums for their teams.

See also Foreign Dispatches on this subject, this post is basically an extension of my comments over there.

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