Vancouver Olympic games face financial disaster

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The Canadians are admirable for many things, but hosting the Olympics is apparently not one of them. The 1976 Montreal games are legendary as a financial disaster, and it now looks like the Vancouver games, set for the winter of 2010, are already facing massive budgetary problems.

The Olympics are virtually always a tax-payer funded venture, but the Canadians seem worse at containing costs than most. (No locale is better at containing costs than Colorado which rejected the 1976 winter games in a 1972 referendum.)

Back in 1984, Los Angeles pulled off one of the greatest feats in history: It actually made money off hosting the Olympic Games. This was quite a surprise, and L.A. had been the only city to bid for the games after the disaster of the Montreal games in 1976. L.A. reused the L.A. Memorial Coliseum from the 1932 games (another time when no one else wanted the games), and managed to avoid the mistakes of Montreal.

But few have managed this feat, and the more typical experience is becoming that of Vancouver:

The total taxpayer-funded price tag for the games is about C$5.84 billion from all levels of government, the Vancouver Sun reported Jan. 23. That tally includes C$883 million for a convention center, C$1 billion to upgrade the Sea-to-Sky highway to Whistler venues, and C$2 billion for a subway line to Vancouver’s airport.

11:29 pm on January 28, 2009