​Tulsa Olympics Could Be Dust Bowl Bound

Tulsa Olympics
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April 29, 2013
Also: 2024 Olympics, Oklahoma, Summer Games, Tulsa, Tulsa Olympics, USOC

It appears that Tulsa, Oklahoma is one of the cities that received a letter from a special community asking whether the city is interested in hosting the Olympics in 2024, but locals say the idea is a bit far-fetched.

Tulsa Olympics

“Some people think of Tulsa as a flyover, Dust Bowl town,” said Neil Mavis, a member of the Tulsa 2024 Olympic Exploratory Committee. “Many people think of cowboys and Indians. … Bidding for the Olympics is the one way to change those stereotypes.”

The USOC recently wrote to the mayors of nearly three dozen cities seeking potential hosts after New York and Chicago lost bids for the 2012 and 2016 games. Most inquiries went to major metropolitan areas, but a handful landed in smaller cities including Portland, Ore., and Memphis, Tenn.

Tulsa, home to about 400,000 people, was among the smallest on the list. The USOC says it was one of 10 cities to say it’s looking into a bid.

“I see this as a great opportunity, I really do,” Mayor Dewey Bartlett said. “If we come off looking a little lighthearted on it, so much the better, but we are serious about putting our name out there.”

The city would have a lot of work to do just to meet the USOC’s hosting standards.

The Tulsa area has around 13,000 hotel rooms, far fewer than the 45,000 required, and Mavis said the city would have to finance and build an Olympic stadium to host major events. Tulsa’s largest facilities now are the 30,000-seat Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium on the University of Tulsa’s midtown campus and the 19,000-seat indoor arena at the BOK Center downtown.

And the price tag? It’s steep: Mavis estimates it would take a $3.5 billion budget to host the Summer Games, though he insisted no local tax dollars would be used.

Tulsa hosted the Bassmaster Classic in February, drawing the event’s second-largest crowd ever with 106,000 people, so the Olympics isn’t an idea that’s necessarily far-fetched.