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Old 01-03-2009, 01:45 PM
 
719 posts, read 1,474,143 times
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This is the first of probably several threads I'll create to discuss the piece I just discovered in Conde Nast's Portfolio magazine (Atlanta - Business Travel - City Guide - Portfolio.com (http://tinyurl.com/7559bb - broken link)) in a series of brief overviews of popular travel destinations for business travelers. The piece is surprisingly critical of Atlanta, slightly dismissive even, but not in a typical mindless or snobbish way that's easy to dismiss. The article makes a number of interesting -- and very debatable -- claims about Atlanta, starting with the following about the Olympics:

The city's yearning for recognition and respect backfired in 1996, when it hosted an uninspiring Olympics that served only to highlight its deficiencies.

I'm intrigued by the boldness of the claim and quite frankly I've never heard it put in such brutally honest terms. Though I don't at all agree with it, I have to admit to finding it harder to refute than I would initially expect. Ultimately I have to confess that it's a quite legitimate argument, even if ultimately I think the jury is still out.

In any case I thought I'd throw it out there for the forum to see if others basically accept this conclusion or not.

Last edited by WilliamM; 01-03-2009 at 01:53 PM..
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Old 01-03-2009, 02:02 PM
 
Location: West Cobb County, GA (Atlanta metro)
9,188 posts, read 30,175,502 times
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Well, Atlanta did "ok" with the Olympics. I mean, if you compare it to the way Beijing China just pulled it off, no, ours was pathetic in comparison. But then, will anyone ever be able to match that? They might if they take most of their public funding monies and put it into that. But that's for another political discussion.

Atlanta has always had somewhat of an I.D. crisis. Until the growth started in the mid to late 70s, Atlanta was basically just another Chattanooga, Birmingham, and Charlotte. They were all small, Southern, cities. Nothing to really catch the attention of much of the U.S., much less the International community. Then we beat the others and got the airport deal. Poof - Atlanta was on the map (at least some maps - at least for flight transfers).

In the late 70s through mid-80s, Atlanta went through it's "New York of the South" advertising bit (it failed), but a lot of people from around the U.S. started coming here. At first, mostly from smaller Southern cities, but slowly, more came from other regions of the U.S. as well. What the Olympics did was announce to the rest of the world that Atlanta actually existed, and that it wasn't the "Gone with the Wind" image that most thought. So, even MORE people started moving here - only now from other nations as well as the rest of the U.S.

So I guess the Olympics succeeded in the fact it made the World aware of our existance. It backfired, in that it sped up the population and sprawl increase beyond what the City and regional leaders could deal with effectively. Atlanta is still basically, just a bunch of smaller towns and cities clustered into one regional area, as opposed to a single modern International city. It'll get there - but not immediately, and not because of an Olympics or any other large event.
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Old 01-03-2009, 02:40 PM
 
Location: Inman Park (Atlanta, GA)
21,871 posts, read 13,081,010 times
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Hmmm...the article also noted Cafe Dupri's to be a dining destination. News flash - the restaurant closed!
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Old 01-03-2009, 02:49 PM
 
1,473 posts, read 1,653,735 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WilliamM View Post
This is the first of probably several threads I'll create to discuss the piece I just discovered in Conde Nast's Portfolio magazine (Atlanta - Business Travel - City Guide - Portfolio.com (http://tinyurl.com/7559bb - broken link)) in a series of brief overviews of popular travel destinations for business travelers. The piece is surprisingly critical of Atlanta, slightly dismissive even, but not in a typical mindless or snobbish way that's easy to dismiss. The article makes a number of interesting -- and very debatable -- claims about Atlanta, starting with the following about the Olympics:

The city's yearning for recognition and respect backfired in 1996, when it hosted an uninspiring Olympics that served only to highlight its deficiencies.

I'm intrigued by the boldness of the claim and quite frankly I've never heard it put in such brutally honest terms. Though I don't at all agree with it, I have to admit to finding it harder to refute than I would initially expect. Ultimately I have to confess that it's a quite legitimate argument, even if ultimately I think the jury is still out.

In any case I thought I'd throw it out there for the forum to see if others basically accept this conclusion or not.
I actually agree with the statement in the sense that the city was probably not ready to host a world stage event. It must have only highligthed those issues to visitors.

I would add that the idea of hosting a world event almost exclusively on advertising money was, in hindsight, a mistake. A once in a lifetime event such as the Olympics might be a good reason to invest public dollars.

On the other hand I strongly disagree that it backfired. Following the Olympics the metro experienced unbelievable economic growth. I also think the Olympics did play some small role in the resurgence of the city-proper.
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Old 01-03-2009, 03:09 PM
 
719 posts, read 1,474,143 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atlantagreg30127 View Post
Atlanta is still basically, just a bunch of smaller towns and cities clustered into one regional area, as opposed to a single modern International city. It'll get there - but not immediately, and not because of an Olympics or any other large event.
Well said.

And that's what I've always believed. It will eventually get there, but it's still got to go through some maturing yet (in the political sense as much as anything else - and by that I mean just all the political compromises and alliances betw groups that are necessary to make a huge urban entity work). But this article shows a certain kind of skepticism towards Atlanta that seems completely wrong, though it's hard to refute it either.
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Old 01-03-2009, 03:28 PM
 
719 posts, read 1,474,143 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J2rescue View Post
I actually agree with the statement in the sense that the city was probably not ready to host a world stage event. It must have only highligthed those issues to visitors.

I would add that the idea of hosting a world event almost exclusively on advertising money was, in hindsight, a mistake. A once in a lifetime event such as the Olympics might be a good reason to invest public dollars.

On the other hand I strongly disagree that it backfired. Following the Olympics the metro experienced unbelievable economic growth. I also think the Olympics did play some small role in the resurgence of the city-proper.
I agree with you entirely. To say it backfired goes way to far in reducing it to its short-term PR-related effects, which is kind of silly. But something like the Olympic games goes way beyond that -- it's, as you said, a once in a lifetime thing. And you also make a very nice point. It's such a once in a lifetime thing that if anything, Atlanta may have been too stingy and narrow-minded and may have failed to seize what was a real golden opportunity to reshape the city in an even more profound and bold way (on the other hand, the cynical political observer is tempted to say you couldn't expect much more from a leadership that was basically dominated by corporate functionaries). And of course, with another 12 yrs hindsight and a financial crisis at our disposal, we could also re-eamine the private-only approach as appearing increasingly anachronistic, not to mention timid when compared with the far-flung operation we saw last summer in Beijing.

That said, I also agree with you that we're not yet in a position to make a final judgment on its effects, which are still ongoing.
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Old 01-03-2009, 03:55 PM
 
Location: East Cobb
2,206 posts, read 6,064,524 times
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Perhaps those who live in an Olympic locale and/or follow Olympic sports avidly are inclined to overestimate the impact of hosting an Olympic Games. Now that I live here I know that Atlanta games were in 1996, but I couldn't tell you, off the top of my head, where any others have been hosted in the last 20 years, except of course for Beijing, because it's so recent.

At the time of the Atlanta Olympics I lived in Canada and had no interest in the American South and no reason to think I'd ever visit the area, let alone live here. I think the fact that the Olympics were in Atlanta probably made me think that Atlanta must be a pretty big city, as American cities go. Before the Olympics, if you'd asked me, I'd have been uncertain as to whether Atlanta was a largish or middling-sized American city. I guess my general impression was that Atlanta's Olympics were kind of "ok", as Greg put it, too. And that's probably about it, as far as the effect of the Olympics on my foreigner's knowledge of Atlanta.

About Beijing's Olympics, the impression I'm left with is that the Chinese government pulled out all the stops for a spectacular display. But I'm well aware that China is not a democracy, so it's easier for that government to allocate resources as it chooses, and I'm not about to be so impressed by an Olympic spectacle that I'll start thinking China's human rights issues have gone away. Nor would I expect a western government to try to match the Chinese.

The very next Olympic games, the 2010 winter Olympics, are actually in my "home" town of Vancouver. I don't think Vancouver's international reputation needs much boosting, but I do think it's an excellent thing that the Olympics has gotten the province to spend the large amount of money needed to do something about the Sea-to-Sky highway, which heretofore has been just deadly (literally, for all too many people) during ski season. I agree that it's good when host cities are prompted to make much-needed infrastructure improvements.
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Old 01-03-2009, 04:21 PM
 
Location: Marietta, GA
7,846 posts, read 14,851,618 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RainyRainyDay View Post
Perhaps those who live in an Olympic locale and/or follow Olympic sports avidly are inclined to overestimate the impact of hosting an Olympic Games. Now that I live here I know that Atlanta games were in 1996, but I couldn't tell you, off the top of my head, where any others have been hosted in the last 20 years, except of course for Beijing, because it's so recent.
I guess it really depends on how much of a sports fan you are and how much you follow the Olympics and sports in general. I'm a huge fan and have watched all of them since I've been old enough to do so. I remember the great athletes from Mark Spitz at the first games I remember in Munich to Michael Phelps at the most recent in Beijing. Some like RRD may not follow them, so to them the impact is minimal.

To say that it's not a big deal understates the exclusivity of hosting the event. There have only been a limited number of summer games, and the number of hosting cities is few with some cities like L.A. that have hosted more than once. Let's not forget some of the cities that have not hosted an Olympic Games include...NYC, Chicago, SF, Philadelphia, Boston, Seattle, Dallas, Houston, Charlotte, etc.

It is a big deal, and although there may have been some minor issues, just the fact that Atlanta was able to present to the IOC and do what it took to secure the games shows a lot about the area. If it was that easy and inconsequential to host an Olympic Games, then every city would do it, right?
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Old 01-03-2009, 04:23 PM
 
719 posts, read 1,474,143 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RainyRainyDay View Post
At the time of the Atlanta Olympics I lived in Canada and had no interest in the American South and no reason to think I'd ever visit the area, let alone live here. I think the fact that the Olympics were in Atlanta probably made me think that Atlanta must be a pretty big city, as American cities go. Before the Olympics, if you'd asked me, I'd have been uncertain as to whether Atlanta was a largish or middling-sized American city. I guess my general impression was that Atlanta's Olympics were kind of "ok", as Greg put it, too. And that's probably about it, as far as the effect of the Olympics on my foreigner's knowledge of Atlanta.
Interesting perspective. As far as 'whether Atlanta was a largish or middling-sized American city', that debate still rages on (as you can see if you peek over in the current thread on Charlotte vs. Atlanta) because of inevitable controversy over how Atlanta should be defined.

So, what did then finally bring you to Atlanta if I may ask. Was it purely work or did you visit first?
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Old 01-03-2009, 06:04 PM
 
Location: East Cobb
2,206 posts, read 6,064,524 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neil0311 View Post
It is a big deal, and although there may have been some minor issues, just the fact that Atlanta was able to present to the IOC and do what it took to secure the games shows a lot about the area. If it was that easy and inconsequential to host an Olympic Games, then every city would do it, right?
Neil, I really didn't mean to suggest that hosting the Olympics isn't a big deal. What I was trying to express was just skepticism about the long-term impact on a host city's reputation. To people like me who aren't big sports buffs, the fact that at some time in the past, a city hosted the Olympic games, may not contribute much to our evaluation of the place. When I was offered a job transfer to Atlanta, I just didn't think "Wow, it had the Olympics in the 90s; must be a happening place." Maybe that's just me.

(In case anyone wonders what I did think, I'm afraid it was more "Isn't it incredibly hot there? Do they still have that awful racism? Aren't southern schools supposed to be abysmal, and if so, how do educated people educate their kids?")
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