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Dreaming of the “No Joke” Olympics

24 June 2008

This ain’t no joke, as they say.

The Birmingham News has reported that Larry Langford, esteemed Mayor of the City of Birmingham, is proposing that Birmingham bid on holding the Olympic Games in 2020. “This is not a game or a joke,” he said at today’s City Council meeting.

I can’t take direct credit, but I *did* (more or less) predict something like this in the Birmingham Weekly roundtable in which I participated more than a month ago.  What follows is what I said…

Not long after I came here, I became aware of Region 2020 and met Ann. I thought it was the greatest thing, that a community could be mobilized to come together and have a consensus on all of these goals. But I always thought that to keep the momentum going, Region 2020 needs to have a terminal event, like there was in Atlanta with the run-up to the Olympics. It was great being part of that organization because we knew what our purpose was. We knew what was coming, we knew that people were going to show up, that the paint had to be on the walls — didn’t have to be dry [laughter] — buses had to run. Things had to work. We had a countdown clock, and it really helped us grow and stay focused and cohesive.
I can see doing something with a big countdown clock that tracks the number of days we have left until the year 2020. That’s 12 years, which is far enough out for us to say what has to happen to achieve the dream that is in that document. It’s enough time to communicate and act on the things we can do to help meet those goals. It covers several election cycles, so that may be a way to hold our political leadership accountable if some of the pieces aren’t falling into place.

The region needs something to work TOWARDS, not _against_.  However, this proposal is already being ridiculed by the usual suspects as foolish and unwise use of taxpayer money.  In fact, even in the booster capital of the world, Atlanta, there were those who said it not only couldn’t be done… but that it shouldn’t have been done.  Now looking back, there can’t be a fool on this planet that could say it was a bad thing for them. Daily Dixie argues 10 (mostly) valid points of ‘why not’ Birmingham.  André Natta at The Terminal has taken a more rational approach to the the issue.

I should point out that I would volunteer in a minute flat to be on his committee (I am somewhat qualified… I worked for the organizing committee for the Atlanta Games, and have experience in economic development, even though I’m a bit busy these days).  Even though Birmingham does NOT stand a realistic chance of actually *landing* the Games in 2020, it would serve as a catalyst to focus the region on what matters in a world-class city.  We have unique strengths and workable weaknesses.  With a platform like this, we can make great progress!  And THAT, my dear reader, is no joke.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Southtrek permalink
    25 June 2008 9:39 am

    I wouldn’t mind working towards some goal as described, but it’d have to be something we’d have a realistic chance of getting other than the Olympics.

    Pan Am games perhaps?

  2. 25 June 2008 11:49 am

    @Southtrek… yes, you are right; walk before running. But, for goodness sake, at least get out of bed!! :^)

  3. Janet permalink
    26 June 2008 7:22 am

    Of all things, I’d like to see the city jump in to bail out OmegaCon. It’s realistic, it’s achievable, and it’s something to work toward that’s not light years away. Successful Science Fiction/Fantasy conventions bring thousands (though not millions) of tourists to cities- Birmingham’s first OmegaCon had several thousand attendees, opening as the biggest first-year con of its type anywhere, but budgetary concerns are making the corporation consider dissolving rather than hosting OmegaCon2 in March 2009.


  1. what is past is prologue… » you’re not joking?
  2. I’m the fool | Daily Dixie

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