After a year-and-a-half of teases and anticipation, the folks hoping to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to Washington will finally find out Thursday if they’ll move on to the next stage. The US Olympic Committee’s executives are scheduled to meet at Denver International Airport at 4:15 PM to announce their selection, then board a plane to the chosen city—either DC, Boston, Los Angeles, or San Francisco.
Of course, there’s a lot more to anticipate than just a simple announcement. Given the DC Olympic bid’s ability to turn even the most committed pro-development types into panicking NIMBYs, it’s first worth reminding everyone that the 2024 Olympics will take place more than nine years from now, not next week. The USOC’s choice is not the final decision either, as whatever city the organization picks will proceed to spend nearly three years wining and dining the International Olympic Committee, which will select a 2024 host in September 2017.
Local officials are all for it. Mayor Muriel Bowser joined Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and the rest of the Washington 2024 leadership on their final sales pitch to the USOC in December, and the bid also has the unanimous support of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, which represents 22 jurisdictions.
Winning an Olympic bid would certainly give Washington an incentive to fast-track many of its infrastructure priorities. Although all four US cities reportedly submitted budgets of less than $5 billion to the USOC, DC’s bid would still require a lot of new construction. The centerpiece of the bid is believed to be an Olympic stadium on the site of the dilapidated RFK Stadium, which could then be repurposed after the Games to be a new home for Washington’s NFL team. Organizers also envision building an Olympic village east of the Anacostia River, though there’s an immediate and valid concern whether that post-Games housing would be affordable to low- and middle-income residents. It also gives the entire region a motivation to upgrade Metro’s shoddy reputation as a people-mover.
But as CityLab’s Kriston Capps pointed out yesterday, the DC government has already shown its committment to building sporting venues whether or not there are Olympics in the city’s future. (To wit: look at publicly funded Nationals Park or the forthcoming DC United stadium, which will cost taxpayers up to $150 million.) An Olympic bid could be just the kick in the pants needed to focus on the non-sporting components of the Olympics, like efficient transportation and sustainable housing.
Then again, if panic is your thing, tune into Olympics Twitter at 4:15 and steel yourself for the announcement. If Washington is chosen, there will be a local press availability somewhere in Washington tomorrow, followed by as long as nine-and-a-half years to stage your home for the most outlandish Airbnb listing ever.
Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.