Road to the Olympics: The cost of hosting past Olympic games

AUSTIN, TX (Nexstar) - It takes billions of dollars to put on an Olympic games. Only time will tell how much South Korea will spend, but they’ve been building infrastructure for years — everything from the indoor venues to housing for the athletes and media.

Vince Bove, 85, from Austin, Texas was in charge of all the money for the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.

“Best thing about it is the memories obviously because at the time there was nothing glamorous about it,” said Bove.

He was a 47-year-old IBM executive at the time, when the company came to him and asked if he would be up for the assignment. His family had a vacation home in Lake Placid, but he wasn’t keen on the idea of being away from his wife and children for so long.

“After I refused it two or three times I went home and discussed it with the family. And they said you refused? What do you mean you refused?” recalled Bove.

His son Chris Bove was 13 years old at the time.

“When Dad said we could live up there for the Olympics I thought are you kidding? Yes we’ll go!” said Chris.

The entire family moved to the small mountain village, enrolled in school and volunteered during the games which had its ups and downs.

“Everyone says thank God we beat the Russians in the hockey game because that’s what everyone remembers about the Olympics,” said Bove. “They don’t remember that we didn’t have any snow that the buses didn’t run.”

Bove was so busy he only made one event – the famous “Miracle on Ice” hockey game between the young U.S. Team and the Russians. The rest of the time he was trying to make sure they didn’t run out of money which included dealing with sponsors pulling out, and a small operating budget of about $60 million.

Unlike the Olympics nowadays, Lake Placid decided to use mostly existing venues. They did get a prison out of the deal. It was built and used as an athletes’ village until after the games were over.
Bove says host cities have to think beyond the Olympics.

“Montreal — they ended up with an Olympic Village that they had to tear down because they had no secondary use for it,” said Bove.

It’s an experience he can smile about now 38 years later.

The 2014 Winter Games in Sochi have been the most expensive Olympic Games in history at $51 billion, surpassing the previous record set by the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games which totaled $44 billion.

  •     Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics: $4.6 billion
  •     Sochi Winter Olympics: $51 billion
  •     London Summer Olympics: $10.4 billion
  •     Vancouver Winter Olympics: $1.3 billion
  •     Beijing Summer Olympics: $44 billion
  •     (Source: Wikipedia)

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