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The costs of the Vancouver Olympics

View of the extinguished Olympic Cauldron during the closing ceremony of the XXI Olympic Winter Games, at the B.C. Place in Vancouver.

TEXT OF STORY

Tess Vigeland: When we called City Hall in Vancouver today, it took a while to get a response. Not surprising, given all the partying after the Olympics closing ceremonies. A city spokeswoman told us folks there were a little "burned out." We didn't ask her if that was code for "hung over."

But as Marketplace's Sarah Gardner reports, that may be the feeling when taxpayers there get the final bill for the games.


SARAH GARDNER: Nearly a billion dollars. That's just the initial estimate of Vancouver's Olympic debt. Much of that from bailing out the Olympic Athletes Village, a project cursed by cost overruns. Sounds like a lot for a couple weeks of fun on the ice and snow.

ROBERT BARNEY: A billion dollars? Well...

Olympics scholar Robert Barney told me Vancouver's getting off relatively cheap.

BARNEY: That's not too much when I think of Athens, whose debt runs over $10 billion.

Barney says Vancouverites who woke up today grouchy over the city's big Olympic bill might ponder instead what they got out of the games. A new subway line and a new convention center, for starters.

Vancouver's mountain-biking mayor had promised to use the games to lure new, green businesses to the city. But columnist Vaughn Palmer at the Vancouver Sun isn't holding his breath.

VAUGHN PALMER: If you asked a lot of investors they would say that local tax rates are pretty high in British Columbia and develop-able property is hard to find, so you can't change that overnight.

Canadian Economist Tsur Somerville says if the Olympic Games did have the power to attract new companies to their host cities, local housing prices would go up.

TSUR SOMERVILLE: And basically we find there's no statistically significant effect.

Which leaves what columnist Vaughn Palmer calls the "feel-good" effect of hosting the Olympics, made all the sweeter by his country's overtime win against the U.S. in men's hockey.

I'm Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

About the author

Sarah Gardner is a reporter on the Marketplace sustainability desk covering sustainability news spots and features.
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