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Back to Olympics main pageBill 14-187

District of Columbia Chamber of Commerce
Richard A. Monteilh, President
Testimony on the “Chesapeake Regional Olympic Games Authority Act of 2012,” Bill 14-187
May 30, 2001




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Testimony of Richard A. Monteilh
on behalf of
The District of Columbia Chamber of Commerce


The Committee on Economic Development of the Council of the District of Columbia concerning

Bill 14-187, "The Chesapeake Regional Olympic Games Authority Act

Wednesday, May 30, 2001

Chairman Brazil, members of the Committee, good morning. My name is Richard Monteilh. I am President of the District of Columbia Chamber of Commerce, which is the lead representative for District-based business. From 1991 to 1997 I served as Executive Director of the Metropolitan Atlanta Olympic Games Authority. I know from direct experience that hosting the Olympic games is a complex and demanding undertaking. My message to you today is that it is also a uniquely valuable opportunity for those cities which win it. I speak on behalf of Chamber membership in urging this Committee's speedy and unanimous favorable vote on Bill 14-187, "The Chesapeake Regional Olympic Games Authority Act."

I experienced the substantial positive impact of the Olympic Games on an American host city during my management of the Metropolitan Atlanta Olympic Games Authority, or "MAOGA." MAOGA was chartered by the state of Georgia in 1989. Its purpose was to contract on behalf of the state with the International Olympic Committee. We were also responsible for building the Olympic Stadium, the most costly and important facility of the Atlanta Games. But most importantly, MAOGA was charged with oversight of all construction contracts entered into by Atlanta's Olympics host committee or "ACOG," the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. MAOGA worked with ACOG successfully to ensure that spending to create the Olympic facilities did not go beyond the host committee's own resources. We were able to certify, two years before the Games opened, that the Atlanta event would, at the very least, break even, and that the region and its taxpayers would be held harmless.

As I saw firsthand during my work in Atlanta, the economic benefits which accrue to Olympic host cities are both substantial and long term. This is important to the business constituencies which the D.C. Chamber of Commerce represents. Many Chamber members are engaged in the city's hospitality industry. We represent more than 30 of the city's major hotels and hotel booking services. Through our recent joint venture with the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, we advocate on behalf of more than 150 of the District's top restaurants and clubs. We count among our membership dozens of the District's major development and commercial real estate firms, as well as a good number of smaller construction trades enterprises. .These businesses will benefit directly from our region's involvement in the Games. Many other Chamber members stand to benefit indirectly from the spin-off of an event of this scale.

From the Chamber's point of view, benefit to the District-based business community alone is sufficient to warrant your quick and favorable action on the legislation before you. But clearly, the benefits which would result from staging the 2012 Olympics in our region will penetrate deeply into our communities, across the range of constituencies you represent. It is reasonable for the District to anticipate benefits similar to those experienced by Atlanta, and other Olympic cities, including --

Enhanced city and regional image, including a boost to our hospitality industry Hosting the Olympics made Sydney, Australia, previously a moderately successful destination city, the top venue for convention business this year. Out-of-state visitors spent an estimated $2.5 billion in the course of the Atlanta games. Hospitality and tourism is the District's top private sector economic driver. Hosting the Olympics will enhance our standing and, through the repeat business the Games can be expected to generate, permanently increase District-based jobs and business opportunities.

New contracting opportunities for local enterprise According to the official report of the Atlanta Olympics, the total economic benefit of the Games to the Georgia economy was $5.1 billion, over the period 1991 - 1997, approximately half coming from spending by the Olympic host committee. Much of this amount went into contracts performed by locally-based business.

Job creation The Atlanta Olympics created approximately 77,000 full- and part-time jobs. ACOG helped provide funding to local job training organizations to prepare disadvantaged Atlantans for construction jobs created by the Games.

Local tax revenue Official reports estimate that the Atlanta games generated $176 million in additional state revenues, through sales, income, corporate, and license taxes.

Affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization In Atlanta, the Games created opportunities for clearing vacant and blighted areas of the downtown for affordable housing. MAOGA used its eminent domain authority, in conjunction with subsidies provided by ACOG and through local community development corporations to create more than 700 new units of affordable housing.

Permanent infrastructure improvements Often overlooked, in the calculation of the Games' benefits to host cities, are the significant infrastructure improvements which they leave behind, paid for not by local taxpayers but by the host committee itself. In the case of Atlanta, these included major capital improvements for the city's historically black colleges and universities - a new gym for Morehouse, a new football field at Clark, 7,000 dormitory rooms at Georgia Tech. The centerpiece of the Atlanta Olympics - the $209 million stadium which is now home to the Atlanta Braves -- was built and paid for by the Atlanta host committee. The opportunity presented by the Games also triggered substantial private sector investment - overall construction project spending, starting with ACOG's $500 million budget, reached a total of $2 billion.

The ability of the Olympic Games to make significant and lasting contributions throughout a host's city's economy is clear. Should Washington, D.C. become an Olympic host it will benefit, as did Atlanta before it, from enhanced international image, long-term tourism increases, and creation of contracting and job opportunities which build the local economy - and the access of small and minority entrepreneurs and workers to it, as well as from lasting capital improvements to the cityscape. Let me note in closing that hosting the Olympics offers Greater Washington an unbeatable opportunity to think like - and begin to reap the benefits of acting like - the economic region we are. The D.C. Chamber of Commerce will continue to work in full support of the Chesapeake Region 2012 Coalition efforts to bring the Olympics to the Washington Region. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you this morning. I am happy to respond to any questions which the Committee may have.

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