Olympic rings on the Thames River in 2012  in Greenwich, England.
Olympic rings on the Thames River in 2012 in Greenwich, England. - 
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The United States Olympic Committee recently sent out letters to 35 mayors around the U.S. It's looking for bids to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. Among those 35 cities were some you would expect -- New York, Chicago, and L.A. But there were also some surpises like Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Columbus, Ohio which have city budgets far below the cost of hosting the summer games.

Chicago spent $10 million just to put in a bid to host the 2016 Olympics. When it got rejected, the International Olympic Committee did not reimburse the city. So why would a city make this costly bid?

Mark Spiegel is the co-author of a paper titled "The Olympic Effect," which looked at the economic benefits of hosting mega-events like the Olympics. He says that for some cities in the developing world, the Olympics can put them on the world stage in a way that does lead to economic benefits.

But those benefits don't have the same appeal for the U.S. The cost of the 2024 Olympics are expected exceed $3 billion. So why would the USOC ask a city like Tulsa, which has a total city budget of under $1 billion, to put in a bid?

"It's pretty cheap for them to send out letters of intention to a bunch of different cities," says Victor Matheson, a sports economist.

Even if the USOC has no intention of picking a city like Tulsa, Matheson says, the more bids the better because it increases competition -- cities try to one up each other ensuring the lavish spectacle we've come to expect from the Olympic games.


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Follow David Weinberg at @@randomtape