A brief look at U.S. cities hoping to host the Summer Olympics

August 27, 2013

Since the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, the games have bounced around the globe without returning to the United States. Summer contests have been held in Sydney (2000), Athens (2004), Beijing (2008) and London (2012), while the coming games will be held in Rio de Janeiro (2016) and either Tokyo, Istanbul or Madrid (the 2020 host city will be picked next month).

Will the Summer Games return to the U.S. in 2024? We won’t know the answer for a while (the International Olympic Committee won’t pick a host until 2017). But we do know that D.C. may be among the cities vying to host the games. A group announced Tuesday that it hopes to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to the Washington region.

Since the Atlanta games, a number of U.S. cities have hoped to lure the Summer Games back (the Winter Olympics, meanwhile, were held in Salt Lake City in 2002). Here’s a look at some of these recent attempts:

Washington-Baltimore (2012 Games)

A little more than a decade ago, a team pushed Washington and Baltimore as a potential site for the 2012 games. Supporters of the bid, which cost $10 million, said they believed such an event would pump $5.3 billion into the region, with massive infrastructure improvements expected in the Maryland corridor between the District and Charm City. Alas, New York and San Francisco were picked by the U.S. Olympic Committee as finalists (London was eventually picked over New York to host the actual games).

“I can’t remember Washington and Baltimore working together this closely since the War of 1812,” Martin O’Mally (D), then the mayor of Baltimore and the current governor of Maryland, said at the time. But while the DC 2024 group’s preliminary plans do include events in Baltimore, the overall push this time around doesn’t formally include Baltimore, my colleague Liz Clarke reports.

San Francisco (2012 Games)

San Francisco outlasted the Washington-Baltimore bid (as well as a Houston campaign), but it lost out to New York for the chance to host the games. A part of San Francisco’s bid was a projected surplus of more than $409 million from the games, based on the idea that most of San Francisco’s infrastructure and venues were already there (as opposed to New York, which would have required a lot of construction), but officials dismissed projected surpluses before picking New York over San Francisco.

New York (2012 Games)

New York was picked over San Francisco as the U.S. Olympic Committee’s bid to host last year’s Games. Bringing the Olympics to New York sounds like a logistical nightmare waiting to happen, admittedly, but the games would have led to major changes in the form of hundreds of new acres of parks, makeovers to big stretches of multiple boroughs and more. New York may have lost the Olympics to London, but the city still benefited from the process, according to a report.

Dallas (2012 Games)

A Dallas effort to host the 2012 Games didn’t make it very far, but those plans are being incorporated into efforts to host future games. Dallas is among the 10 cities that have expressed interest to the U.S. Olympic Commission, as Clarke reports here.

Chicago (2016 Games)

Chicago pushed hard to host the 2016 Olympics, a campaign that included a personal push by President Obama. The Windy City was picked as an international finalist, but it was ultimately snubbed in favor of Rio de Janeiro. (What would have happened if Chicago had been picked? Philip Hersh explored this during last summer’s Games in London.)

Los Angeles (2016 Games)

After hosting two Summer Games in 1932 and 1984, Los Angeles campaigned for the 2016 Games with the benefit of history (as well as venues that were already built). But despite those advantages, it lost out to Chicago.

Las Vegas (2020 Games)

The U.S. Olympic Committee decided not to bid for the 2020 Summer Games due to a dispute over revenue sharing. So Las Vegas submitted a bid without USOC support, which was promptly dismissed by the International Olympic Committee.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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Rahiel Tesfamariam · August 27, 2013