According to a recent survey by The Committee for Brisbane some 88% of its members are in favour of a Brisbane/SEQ Olympic bid for the 2032 Games.
Most (91%) see improved and delivered transit infrastructure as a major outcome of housing the Games. In addition, many see an increased brand awareness of the region as another major benefit.
For more go here: June 2019 Members Survey
Yet, like every other urban region that has invested heavily in hosting a major sporting event or its equivalent over the last couple of decades, this event will most certainly lose money. Probably a lot of money and much more money than most realise.
And they almost never bring in a lasting legacy as often spruiked neither.
Despite volumes of documented evidence to the contrary, why do well-intentioned people and organisations, like The Committee for Brisbane, spearhead new projects like this?
So why does it keep happening?
According to Seth Godin there’s a valuable set of lessons here about human behaviour:
- Powerful people will benefit. High profile projects attract vendors, businesses and politicians that seek high profile outcomes. And these folks often have experience doing this, which means that they’re better at pulling levers that lead to forward motion, just like this Brisbane Committee survey.
- The project is specific. Are there other ways that Brisbane/SEQ could effectively invested the money? Could the region have improved access, improved education, invested in technology or primed the local job market? Without a doubt. But there’s an infinite number of alternatives – with numerous agendas and many vested interests – versus just one specific goal.
- The project has a rigid timeframe. It’s imminent. You can’t study it for years or a decade and come back to it. You are either in or out. It’s yes or no.
- The end is in sight. When you build a stadium, you get a stadium. When you host the Games, you get the Olympics. That’s rarely true for the more important (but less visually urgent) alternatives, such as actually making the city better.
- Patriotism’s at work. “What do you mean you don’t support the city?”
The big takeaway here is to understand that an economic argument as to why this pitch – and the possible hosting of the Games – shouldn’t happen is a waste of time.
It won’t change the decision maker’s minds. It will get no purchase with the masses. The media might run a few stories about the counterpoint but only really to be seen as offering a balanced view.
But we can learn a lot as to why such campaigns get traction.