Lileks: Minneapolis and the 2024 Olympics — thankfully not

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 23, 2013 - 3:06 PM

Minneapolis will not bid for the 2024 Olympics, which sent many people to Wikipedia for a complete, exhaustive A-Z list of deities to thank. Don’t forget Indebtus, the old pagan god of underused sports facilities.

There are so many reasons not to want the Olympics. The proposal to use the skyway system for indoor high-speed bike racing would have been disruptive to lunch-hour pedestrian traffic. Meanwhile, sports that are native to our culture — Competitive Passive-Aggressive Fruitcake Regifting, for example, or Synchronized Shoveling — are not represented.

And, of course, there’s money.

China’s approach: We’ll spend $14 billion on a high-speed rail line from the airport to a $136 billion complex by an entirely new solar-powered city with rooms for 50,000 athletes and support staff, and man, that really ate into the petty cash drawer.

Minneapolis: Well, we have a new electronic pulltab game that’ll generate enough funds to pay for a logo. My sister knows this graphic designer who works in the Warehouse District; he’s really good!

We don’t have those resources. One can claim that the infrastructure upgrades are a boon, but if they’re needed, you’d like to think the city would do them anyway; fixing a bridge because some foreigners are coming for a fortnight is like your parents painting your room because relatives are stopping by to spend the night. Gee, thanks.

So hurrah! No Olympics. The mayor noted the city’s resources could be better spent getting the Democratic National Convention or the Super Bowl. Good idea.

But aren’t we selling ourselves short? Why can’t we be London or Beijing?

Because we’re a modest metropolis in a smallish northern-tier state. For years the term “world-class” has been a mantra around here, as if we can play in the same league as Paris or Berlin. Better to aim for sane and sensible than serve the grandees of some distant international organization that couldn’t care less if City Hall had to be mortgaged to pay for a thrice-used lacrosse arena. Better for someone else in an up-and-coming town to say “we’d like to be a Minneapolis-class city.”

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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