Businessman's Plan To Bring 2024 Olympics To Tulsa Gains National Attention
TULSA, Oklahoma - Tulsa business leaders will respond Tuesday morning to the city's increasing national attention for its dream to host the Olympics.
The U.S. Olympic Committee sent letters to 35 cities, including Tulsa, to gauge which cities would be interested in making a bid for the 2024 summer games.
But the man behind the plan says the same jokes were made about Atlanta, and look who's laughing now.
"It would definitely change the legacy of Oklahoma," said Neil Mavis.
Mavis is a Tulsa businessman with the grand plan make Tulsa an Olympic host city in 11 years.
"We have about the same amount of infrastructure in place that Atlanta had at the same stage of the bid process," Mavis said.
Mavis said he's mimicking Atlanta's bid plan, where many of the events were outsourced to cities within a 120-mile radius. He said any bid here would be less about Tulsa and more about Oklahoma.
"Here, it would be Norman, Edmond, Oklahoma City, Stillwater and Tahlequah," Mavis said.
Mavis wants to use football stadiums at OU and OSU for soccer, Stillwater's Gallagher-Iba arena for basketball, and Tulsa's BOK Center for handball.
Lacrosse could be held at NSU in Tahlequah, and the old Drillers Stadium could become a cycling complex.
But Tulsa only has one-third of the hotel rooms required to host the games. Because many of the games would be held elsewhere in the state, Mavis said rooms in those cities would beef up that total.
Still, Tulsa's missing some of the other key components, like a competition-worthy pool, stadium and river.
"In Atlanta, they had to go 108 miles into Tennessee to get a river, they went to the Ocoee River, because they could turn it on and off," Mavis said. "For us, we've been trying to put water in the Arkansas River, so this would be an idea for us to have a catalyst to finally get water in the Arkansas."
It could cost much as $5 billion to make Tulsa a gold-medal destination, but Mavis said that will pay for itself and it's been done before--and with a profit.
"If done right, like Atlanta, Atlanta was a $1.7 billion cash flow through the local economy, with a $10 million profit, and we're copying that model," Mavis said.
The only difference: in Tulsa's model, he says no tax dollars would be used.
Mavis said Mayor Dewey Bartlett is backing the plan.
We reached out for a comment from the city and the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, but neither were ready to comment Monday.
The Chamber said it's scheduled a news conference for Tuesday morning to discuss the issue.
There's still a long way to go in the process. The city would know about seven years in advance, by 2017, if it's selected.