Young: You figure your market is a 500-mile radius. Los Angeles has 27 million people in a 500-mile radius, but they were on the coast. . . .In a 500-mile radius around Atlanta, you get everything from Columbus, Ohio, down to Orlando. And so we had a 500-mile radius of 55 million people.
We packed it. . . .I think we sold more tickets than any other Olympics in history.
Anderson: Atlanta, I understand, was buying one-way bus tickets out of town for their homeless. They passed ordinances that made it illegal to sleep in public places, to cross parking lots unless your car was in that parking lot. We took exactly the opposite approach. We built overflow homeless shelter facilities. We did everything we could to accommodate those who might be on the streets.
Young: With the bombing [at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 that killed one person and injured more than 100], we were worried about foreign terrorists, but it turned out it was a right-to-lifer bombing. It was just one crazy guy that you couldn’t let ruin the Olympics. The thing that impressed me was that the bombing was at 1 at night. By 6, when I got up, all of our volunteers were in place, and everything the next morning started on time.
Anderson: The Chinese government sent representatives to meet with me to try to persuade me to prohibit the Falun Gong from any kinds of demonstrations or presence during the Olympics. I told them they wasted their trip because we welcome the Falun Gong, as we welcomed any group as long as they conducted themselves lawfully — and, in fact, we’d already issued them a permit to speak.
Anderson: The state ended up building all these highways . . . I never quite understood how they related to the Olympics. I think a lot of advantage was taken by some state leaders in using the Olympics to grab as many federal funds as possible.
Young: Atlanta was a Southern regional city with a few national roots. We used the airport and the Olympics to create an international economy. We have . . . German companies in Atlanta now. They didn’t bring Germans with them — they’re hiring Atlantians.
Anderson: My dealings were primarily with people like Mitt Romney, with whom I got along. I think he provided really great leadership, and I must say he was a very different, far more moderate and reasonable person than the Mitt Romney that I saw running for president.
We put on what I think will go down as the most successful Winter Games in Olympic history. We came out in the black. We ended up with world-class training and competition venues. It was a source of tremendous pride for people of this city.
Young: It brought out the best in the city. We had a warehouse district that had been ignored. [A group of downtown businesses] tore it down and donated it to the city as Centennial Olympic Park. Now around that park there are two or three hotels, an aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, a civil rights museum. It totally redeveloped Atlanta.
Now, whether Washington needs that — how it needs it — I don’t know.
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