Austin invited to join 2024 Olympics bid



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Posted on February 20, 2013 at 11:15 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 21 at 11:38 AM

AUSTIN -- It is the event, that for 29 days, seems to bring the world together. When political and religious differences are forgotten and the human spirit is celebrated. And in 2024, it could be held in Austin.

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) is sending letters to 35 cities to gauge interest in hosting the games.

"Being able to have that here, in my home, that'd be awesome," said Austin resident Jeromy Lopez De Castilla.

Local business owner and community leader Paul Carrozza agreed.

"I think it's about time," Carrozza said. "Austin would be the greatest host in, I think, the history of the Olympics because you think about the town, people love to come here. I think we're the right size market now to host it, especially with the Austin-San Antonio corridor."

However, economic expert and UT professor Daniel Hamermesh had a different reaction when he heard the news. "I sort of laughed at it. Because deep down I can't imagine it happening, but it would be really cool," Hamermesh said.

There is no doubt that it would be an honor to hold the games in the Capitol City, but can Austin handle it?

Both New York and Chicago spent upwards of $10 million in improvements before even submitting a bid and being considered by the USOC and International Olympic Committee. 

It cost the city of Atlanta more than $2 billion to host the 1996 Summer Olympics, and $500 million came from taxpayer's wallets.

The USOC reports that hosting the games costs well over $3 billion. Host cities must have 45,000 hotel rooms along with an Olympic village that sleeps 16,500. And work space for 15,000 journalists.  Plus a workforce of 200,000 people, public transportation to venues and the proper transportation infrastructure.

In several of those arenas, Austin falls short, but Carrozza believes Austin can get there.

"The amount of time it would take to get the bid and get prepared would also give us the impetus to maybe look at some of the long-term traffic issues in Austin and give us the reason to solve them," said Carrozza.

Others aren't so sure. One woman who lives in Austin told KVUE News, "I think they need a rail system first."

The USOC has more than two years to select a city and submit a bid to the IOC.

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell has not yet received the letter, but released a statement saying:

"It’s certainly an honor to be mentioned as a candidate city. I think Austin has proven itself as a great city, and we’d stand up well to our competition. We’ve proven that time and time again, we are very competitive. Austin has become a global city, and I think we have shown ourselves as a strong venue on the world stage – it’s something we’ve proven with South by Southwest, ACL and the United States Grand Prix."

The cities that received the letter were Houston; Austin; Dallas; San Antonio; Seattle; Phoenix; San Jose, Calif.; Los Angeles; Sacramento; San Diego; San Francisco; Denver; Washington; Jacksonville, Fla.; Orlando, Fla.; Miami; Atlanta; Chicago; Indianapolis; Baltimore; Detroit; Minneapolis; St. Louis; Las Vegas; New York; Boston; Rochester; Charlotte, N.C.; Columbus, Ohio; Tulsa, Okla.; Portland, Ore.; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Memphis; and Nashville and Davidson County.