The cost of merely thinking about bringing the 2024 Olympics to Toronto? $1 million

The cost of merely thinking about bringing the 2024 Olympics to Toronto? $1 million

Memories of Toronto’s last two failed bids for the Games

Toronto is in the early stages of contemplating yet another attempt at Olympic glory, and there’s already an estimated price tag. The first phase of this hypothetical Olympic bid—a study of whether the city could even theoretically pull off such a huge event—would cost $1 million.

At next week’s meeting of the city’s economic development committee, councillors will decide whether to ask city council to approve that expense—which wouldn’t be the last. City staff estimate that it would cost between $50 and $60 million to prepare a formal bid for the International Olympic Committee. The games themselves could cost an estimated $3.3 to $6.9 billion.

There are all sorts of economic justifications for pursuing an international sporting event like the Olympics. It draws international tourists, for one thing, and can even spur infrastructure development, as cities scramble to make neighbourhoods safe and improve public transit ahead of the arrival of the camera crews. (Vancouver built a new SkyTrain line ahead of its 2010 games.) Of course, the games can also serve as excuses to overspend on projects without any post-event utility. Beijing, for instance, is still figuring out what to do with its stadium.

In Toronto’s case, the extra incentive to build new stuff might not be needed. The city is already well into the process of preparing for its 2015 Pan Am Games, for which the provincial government is helping to finance a few different projects, including a rail link to Pearson airport and a whole new neighbourhood in the West Don Lands. Plus, past Olympic bids haven’t worked out so well for Toronto. The city was passed over in favor of Atlanta for the 1996 games, and came in second to Beijing in 2008.

Also, maybe, just maybe, some of us would rather not have to cower in our homes for two weeks while mobs of tourists stampede through downtown? Just a thought.