Everyone Should Just Calm Down About the Olympics Coming to Dallas

Athens’ abandoned, tagged Spiros Louis Stadium. Photo: Metro Centric, via Flickr

Yesterday, the United States Olympic Committee sent letters out to 35 American cities, to gauge their interest in bidding for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Some locals thought the letter said “ZOMG DALLAS HERE’S THE OLYMPICS.”

Problem with that: Dallas is not even close to being able to handle the Olympics. There are a lot of metrics that Dallas fails at (reliable public transit being the massive, festering sore on any bid), but let’s just look at one: an Olympic stadium. NBC-DFW quotes the CEO of Dallas 2024, Matt Wood, as saying that Cowboys Stadium would be used in any bid. Read: Cowboys Stadium would be the Olympic stadium. Except the International Olympic Committee would never let that happen. Here are the past eight Summer Olympic stadiums (plus Rio 2016’s) and their approximate distances to downtown:

2016: Rio de Janeiro, Maracanã Stadium, downtown Rio
2012: London, Olympic Stadium, six miles from central London, six minutes by train
2008: Beijing, Beijing National Stadium, six miles from central Beijing
2004: Athens, Spiros Louis, 6.8 miles from central Athens, in Marousi
2000: Sydney, Stadium Australia, 10 miles west of central Sydney
1996: Atlanta, Centennial Olympic Stadium, immediately south of downtown Atlanta
1992: Barcelona, Estadi Olimpic de Montjuic, three miles from the Olympic Village in downtown Barcelona
1988: Seoul, Olympic Stadium, five miles from central Seoul
1984: Los Angeles, the Coliseum, three miles from downtown LA

2024: Dallas, Cowboys Stadium, 19 miles from downtown Dallas

Every other stadium (with the exception of the Athens games) is in the host city. Now maybe Dallas would build a new stadium at Fair Park, but do we really have the $700 million to do that? Or the hundreds of millions to renovate the Cotton Bowl? And that would be on top of the $3 BILLION operating budget estimate.

I love the Olympics, but Dallas needs to consider fully the implications of launching another bid.


  • WalkableDFW

    The lesson of the prior and most recent olympics is that 1) don’t worry about the money to build facilities, it will appear – these are boondoggles of the highest order – and (more importantly) 2) what happens to all of those generally narrow use, single-purpose facilities afterwards. The most interesting thing about London is they specifically addressed this point in their bid and subsequent planning. All of the facilities had to have a long-term utilization strategy, many of which included disassembly and relocation as smaller facilities for local athletics programs around England as smaller venues.

    My concern about the Fair Park as Olympic Village idea (though I do believe it is a good use for Fair Park) is that Fair Park can (and must) redevelop as a village with or without the Olympics. The Olympics and its financial weight can be used to leverage more difficult problems if we so choose. Why wait ten years to start repurposing Fair Park as multi-purpose, full-time neighborhood (ie infilling the parking lots)?

    • Matt P

      Can our city handle another commercial construction or real estate scandal / boondoggle? Why are we even talking about hosting an Olympics here?

  • Bethany

    To be fair, the talk I heard was a North Texas bid, not a Dallas bid. Back in the pre- Super Bowl days, the hope was voiced that the north Texas committee could morph into an entity that would pull events to the region.
    Of course, that’s before the region demonstrated that logistically ferrying people from all points is a lot easier said than done, and that bad weather can cripple a transportation plan that is largely car-reliant since Arlington will not buy in to DART.

  • critic

    The Summer Olympics will never happen in Dallas due to heat stroke of participants and attendees.
    Fair Park can be converted to a minimal security prison as the Dallas County jail exceeds capacity in the next decade.

  • Dubious Brother

    You are assuming the USOC meant Dallas when they said Dallas. What they meant was Dallas as in the Dallas Cowboys. Make you measurement to downtown Arlington – then they could build AARTand increase their sales tax and ……

  • LDR4

    The Metroplex Games has a nice ring to it…

  • downtownworker

    Fair Park as the 2024 Olympic Village would be the perfect “sequel” to its setting for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition, but let’s not pretend we should wait another minute (less yet 10 years as WalkableDFW said) to begin transforming this space into what it’s destined to be. If you think the future of Dallas has nothing to do with Fair Park, you don’t understand this city at all.

  • Jason Heid

    The Olympics requires that bids be made by a city, not a region, even when (as is usually the case) venues are spread across a metropolitan area (or even an entire country). When I was interviewing members of the Super Bowl XLV host committee a few years back, several of them had also been involved in the 2012 Olympics bid by Dallas. They all mentioned how that failed effort had been made more difficult by the fact that “Dallas” had to be the headliner while they were begging for support from institutions across the area. That’s why they made a big deal about the Super Bowl being a North Texas Super Bowl.

    Anyway, so it’d have to be “Dallas 2024.” Or “Fort Worth 2024, ” I guess.

  • Brent Dudenhoeffer

    LOL…Dallas 2012 was a strong-armed failure. Never a chance.

  • Brent Dudenhoeffer

    LOL…Dallas 2012 was such a strong-armed failure. Never a chance for this happening, unless Tim butts to the front of the line.

  • Paul

    I think the likely hindrance to a Dallas bid is not the location of Cowboys Stadium, but 108 degree weather in August.