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Olympic Cities: Lessons Learned from Mega-Event Politics

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As cities compete for jobs and capital in the context of limited federal aid and increasing global economic competition, a new and potentially high-risk strategy for stimulating local economic growth has emerged. This strategy, called the mega-event strategy, entails the quest for a high-profile event to serve as a stimulus to, and justification for, local development. We examine how the mega-event strategy has played out in the three US cities with contemporary Olympic experience: Los Angeles (1984), Atlanta (1996), and Salt Lake City (2002). We analyze the approaches taken by these three cities to bidding for and staging an Olympic mega-event. Our comparison focuses on the decade long period that cities use to prepare to host the games. We conclude with a discussion of lessons learned and the policy implications of the mega-event strategy on urban politics.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: California State University, Los Angeles, 2: University of Utah, 3: Portland State University

Publication date: June 1, 2001


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