Noted architect and city planner Daniel Burnham, whose work helped rebuild Chicago after its devastating 1871 fire and brought a world’s fair there later in the decade, advised clients to "make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.”
Some in Tulsa are taking a page from Burnham with their suggestion that the city bid on the 2020 Summer Olympics.
One member of the Tulsa 2020 Committee said the immediate and understandably skeptical reaction was similar in Atlanta when that city began considering going after the 1996 Games. Tulsa today and Atlanta in 1989 and ’90 share some similarities, committee members pointed out.
Indeed there were some. Atlanta’s population in 1990 was about 394,000; Tulsa’s today is roughly 385,600. But the Atlanta metropolitan area had a population of 2.9 million in 1990; Tulsa’s today is 916,000.
But some of the differences are stark. Atlanta in 1990 was already home to one of the world’s busiest airports and had hotel rooms galore — both vitally important for such a mammoth undertaking. Tulsa doesn’t have the busiest airport in the state, and is 25,000 hotel rooms shy of what Olympic decision-makers look for.
The odds of this idea succeeding are remote. On the other hand, it could become a success if Tulsans use it to really decide what kind of city it wants to be 10 or 15 years hence.
Remember, 15 years ago few if any in Oklahoma City thought we would ever have a shot at a pro sports franchise.