Miami has hosted NFL Super Bowls, sailing races that circumvent the planet, international art fairs, and just about everything in between. The one glaring omission from this list: the Olympics. Granted, we haven’t been equipped to host an Olympiad in the past, but the last decade has seen Miami become more global, more urban, more of an economic powerhouse, and more respected on the world stage.
Residents and companies are moving here at a record pace. We’re investing in new parks and public transit, the airport and seaport. We’ve seen the rise of new cultural outlets; and our urban core is expanding at a rate that’s eclipsing any other U.S. city.
So, is Miami destined to host the Olympics one day? Do we even have a shot? Should we submit a bid for the 2028 or 2032 games?
Before we start weighing pros and cons, let’s set the record the straight: Being an Olympic host city is a terrible financial move. Rio was running 51 percent over budget before the games even began. London’s initial budget of $3.8 billion skyrocketed to $14.5 billion in 2012, making it the most expensive Games ever. An Oxford University analysis of every Olympiad dating back to 1960 shows that host cities exceed their budgets by an average of 179%.
Most municipalities justify the expense based on some combination of tourism revenues, civic pride, an influx of corporate dollars, and a justification to make overdue infrastructure improvements, but skepticism is warranted.
Fortunately, this is only a blog and we’re not charged with balancing the books, so let’s put dollars and cents aside and size up Miami’s potential as an Olympic suitor.
Working to our advantage: We’ve got two international airports that are still expanding, a growing multicultural population, ample hotel room supply, a waterfront setting with a thriving port, a stable government, and basic infrastructure systems in place. Plus, we know how to throw a party!
Working against us: Our municipal finances have been shaky over the years, there are gaping holes in our mass transit system, our summers are hot and humid and we are prone to hurricanes. While we’ve hosted Super Bowls, we lack experience hosting major regional events that require moving large numbers of people efficiently. Let’s also not forget that we are adverse to spending public dollars on stadiums.
That being said, our chief strength as a host city candidate may be our venues. Think about it: we’ve already invested significant public and private dollars into various stadiums and facilities – why not extract more return on our investment? Throw up some fresh paint over there and add some more seating over there, and before you know it, we’ll be ready for primetime.
- Dolphins Stadium, Following the addition of a partial roof this fall, the home of the Dolphins and Hurricanes could easily serve as Olympic Stadium, the main stage for opening and closing ceremonies, soccer and track and field events.
- American Airlines Arena is an obvious choice for the Olympic basketball venue
- BankUnited Center could host hard-court volleyball
- Bank Atlantic Centercould serve as the main venue for men’s and women’s gymnastics
- For beach volleyball, what better venue than … the actual beach (I’m thinking South Beach, say 20th and Ocean)
- Is there a better place for an Olympic sailing meet than Biscayne Bay, with downtown Miami serving as the backdrop?
- The Adrienne Arsht Center and Broward Center could host indoor events such as fencing, weightlifting and martial arts
- The Tennis Center at Crandon Park (already home to the Miami Open) is an ideal setting for Olympic tennis matches
- Rowing and crew events are well suited for the Miami Marine Stadium; the Olympics would provide the impetus for long overdue stadium improvements
- Marlins Park, with its retractable roof, is the perfect spot for baseball games
We’d have to build an aquatic center to host swimming, water polo and diving events, along with an official Olympic Park and athlete village. The area surrounding Dolphins Stadium has more than enough land to accommodate such a facility. Another option is designating a blighted area in close proximity to the urban core and beaches for redevelopment, which is the approach that was taken in London.
And oh yeah, we’ll need a new soccer stadium – but all signs indicate we’ll cross that off our to-do list before 2028.
With so many existing venues in South Florida and an increasingly global brand, it may be high time for a collective effort to bring the Olympics here in our lifetime. 2028 is the next available Olympiad, though we’d be a little late to the game: Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, Paris, Shanghai, Milan and Berlin are all mentioned as possible suitors (notably absent from this list: a North American contender).
That leads us to 2032. By then, we’ll probably have some more airport terminals, new transit lines, and a soccer stadium. Now if only we could do something about those hurricanes…