With Boston mulling whether a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games is worth the hassle (and leftover infrastructure), Beantown movers-and-shakers have periodically looked to Atlanta this year as a cautionary Olympic tale. And more than once, those highfalutin Yankee nitwits have thrown unprovoked jabs. Maybe the comparisons aren't that surprising, since Boston is the frontrunner to snag the Summer Games, and the International Olympic Committee is reportedly under pressure to award them to a U.S. city for the first time since Atlanta. But the vitriol is surprising. Earlier this year, a former John Hancock bigwig named David D'Alessandro ruffled feathers with this comment about Boston's bid: "Is it technically feasible? Of course it is … If Atlanta can do it, Boston can do it, please. Atlanta is a second-rate city at best. And they pulled it off in 1996." Oh, the horror! The outrage! That lowdown Yankee jab prompted former Atlanta mayor (and former Yankee) Shirley Franklin to valiantly respond, via Twitter: "I wish Boston well on something we accomplished almost 20 years ago." But it was only the beginning.
This month, four members of "No Olympics Boston" weigh the plusses and negatives of hosting the Summer Games in an op-ed for Yankee-fried CommonWealth Magazine. [Full disclosure: Trace amounts of Yankee blood, the devil's liqueur, do course through this author's veins.] They chart the post-Olympic fates of several cities, including Atlanta. At the end, they add a condescending haymaker for good measure:
"Atlanta is tearing down its Olympic stadium less than 20 years after it was constructed, and has been severely criticized for its neglected promises to the African-American community, particularly on unfulfilled guarantees to create workforce housing in conjunction with the Games. It also offers perhaps the greatest evidence that hosting the Olympic Games does little for a city's global reputation: 20 years later, does anyone consider Atlanta a global city?"
Delta probably does. Porsche, too. And Piedmont Park makes Boston Common look like the backyard of an overpriced, undersized townhouse.
A Boston Globe writer who recently visited Atlanta seemed fairly impressed, even if her viewpoint on the Big Peach was myopic because her destinations were clichéd. In fairness, she had only one day to explore Atlanta … but cheese grits and the World of Coke?
· Fizzy variety and harsh reality in Atlanta [Boston Globe]
· Let's think smart [CommonWealth Magazine]