You are hereNeither Olympics Nor NFL Will Rescue Los Angeles

Neither Olympics Nor NFL Will Rescue Los Angeles


By Joel KotkinSeptember 14 2015

Appearing in: 
Orange County Register

We all tend to have fond memories of our greatest moments, and for Los Angeles, the 1984 Olympics has served as a high point in the city’s ascendency. The fact that those Summer Games were brilliantly run, required relatively little city expenditure and turned a profit confirmed all those things we Angelenos loved about our city – its flexibility and pragmatism and the power of its civic culture.

After Boston turned down its chance to be the U.S. entrant in the sweepstakes to host the 2024 Olympics, it’s natural that Mayor Eric Garcetti and the city establishment, at least what’s left of it, desire a return engagement. But the Los Angeles of today barely resembles the vibrant, optimistic city of 30 years ago.

“The city where the future once came to happen,” a devastating report from the establishmentarian Los Angeles 2020 Commission recently intoned, “is living the past and leaving tomorrow to sort itself out.”

Last Best Chance?

So rather than a bold move toward establishing the city’s preeminence, the current move smacks more of a Hail Mary pass. It also seems to embody a kind of nostalgia, a sentiment reflected not only in the desire to relive Olympic glory but also in the efforts to bring pro football back to town, including, perhaps, a return of the long-departed Rams.

Yet ultimately, neither a third Olympics (the first was in 1932) nor the return of NFL football can alter a city’s fate. After all, the 2000 Athens Olympics did not lead to a new Greek renaissance, but may, instead, have contributed to that country’s fiscal morass. Summer Games in Montreal (1976) and Atlanta (1996) did not usher in a golden age for those cities, but periods of decline.

Read the entire piece at The Orange County Register.

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"Greenurbia is the suburbs of the future. The suburbs of the 1950s were bedroom communities for people who commuted into the city. Today, there’s much more employment in the suburbs, and the big change is the number of people working full-time or part-time at home. Having people commute from one computer screen to another doesn’t make sense."

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Kotkin has a striking ability to envision how global forces will shape daily family life, and his conclusions can be thought-provoking as well as counterintuitive. It's amazing there isn't more public discussion about the enormous changes ahead, and reassuring to have this talented thinker on the case. — Jennifer Ludden, NPR national desk correspondent

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