SD bids for binational Olympics

by David Hernandez

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner wants to join Tijuana, Mexico and bid to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to the San Diego-Tijuana region.

On Feb. 19, San Diego, along with 34 other cities, received a letter from the U.S. Olympic Committee to stimulate interest.

“Our objective in this process is to identify a partner city that can work with us to present a compelling bid to the International Olympic Committee and that has the right alignment of political, business and community leadership,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said in the letter.

The letter described the requirements for the cities, including 45,000 hotel rooms, an Olympic village for 16,000 athletes and officials, an international airport, good public transportation and a workforce of up to 200,000.

San Diego Tax Fighters chairman Richard Rider is opposed to the idea of San Diego hosting the Olympics.

Rider told 10 News the bidding process costs millions, in addition to the expenses of hosting the games.

“Who’s going to pay the difference? The tooth fairy? The state of California? I don’t think so,” Rider told 10 News.

San Diego State international communications professor John Eger believes the costs shouldn’t discourage San Diego from hosting the Olympics. Eger said money doesn’t necessarily have to come from the city’s budget. It requires commitment from the host city to raise money, he added.

Most importantly, Eger said globalization is reshaping the world with powerful economic regions being important. He believes the Olympics have the potential to blur the lines between Tijuana and San Diego.

“The world is being reborn because of technology. Lines are blurred between nations, states and cities,” Eger said. “San Diego and Tijuana have the potential to be a great 21st century city, more like region.”

Eger added that most foreign companies making investments in this region commit to both sides of the border.

“Manufacturing occurs in Tijuana, but companies offices are located here,” Eger said.

Filner announced his intentions to join forces with Tijuana during the inauguration of San Diego’s affairs office in Tijuana on Feb. 22. As part of a campaign promise, the office seeks to build closer political, economic and cultural ties between the two cities.

Filner has also advocated for Tijuana and San Diego to share the same area code in order to become a more unified region. Among other reasons, the area code would save costs of calling long distance.

“I’m not a big fan of the Olympics,” Eger added. “But I’d like to see Tijuana and San Diego work on a big idea, and the Olympics is a big idea, one that we’ve been invited to discuss.”

Aside from his announcement, Filner has not discussed his plan to bid with Tijuana. The final vote to decide the host city of 2024 will take place in 2017.