As Olympics Begin, What Can Buffalo Teach London?
High hotel rates could suppress tourism to the London Olympics so much so that The London Independent is suggesting that city could lose almost $5.4 billion.
If the idea of hosting a worldwide sporting event, yet still losing lots of money sounds familiar to Western New Yorkers, it should.
Second in size to only the Olympics, the World University Games were hosted in Buffalo in 1993.
And while they resulted in the construction of the new stadium at UB and the Burt Flickinger Athletic Center at ECC, their legacy also includes local vendors holding the bag for almost $2.9 million before Erie County paid some 50 cents on the dollar.
"They'll never make money. I have yet to be on any really large event like that where they make money," says Ralph Galanti, ECC's retired athletic director, and a veteran of both 1993's World University Games and Buffalo's more recent experience with the Empire State Games in 2000.
In 1994, the year after it was constructed even the now successful Flickinger Center was a burden, unable at first to cover operating costs.
But Galanti and then Erie County Budget Director Sheila Kee now tell WBEN that 20 years later, the facilities are a legacy that outshine the financial debacle.
"Just as you look at the London Games, the real value there will be over the next 10 years, 20 years. The same is true for the World University Games investment , getting value on that investment over the last 20 years or more" Kee says .
Bookmakers have assigned odds on who will be the final torchbearer, so this is something you can actually bet on.
The British Olympic Association said last week they've made their selection, but is is a tightly held secret, debated even even between some of the contenders.
Sir Steve Redgrave is a five-time rowing gold medalist, but he's publicly questioned if two-time decathlon gold medalist Daley Thompson should get the nod over him.
Thompson, meanwhile, has said he's more deserving than Sebastian Coe, two-time Olympic champion in the 1,500 meters and head of the London organizing committee.
And don't forget the celebrities or the royals.
Among the other names bandied about has been Prince William, David Beckham, Paul McCartney, or, maybe, an electronic device. In 1992, archer Antonio Rebollo opened the Games by shooting a flaming arrow toward the cauldron.
WNY's Olympic Athletes:
And the grandson of legendary former WBEN sportscaster Stan Barron is a race walker. Hear a profile from WBEN's Steve Cichon:
Matt Anderson of West Seneca is on the Men's Volleyball Team
Jake Kaminski of Elma is a member of the US Archery Team
Polevaulter Jen Suhr is a Chautauqua County native
The British press are panning Mitt Romney's visit to the UK, with one paper even calling him "Mitt The Twit"
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In London on Friday, for three minutes, Big Ben - Britain's iconic Clock Tower - bonged to celebrate the first day of the London Olympics, kicking off a day of celebration that will culminate in a flashy opening ceremony.
With more than 30 different sports and 530 Americans competing, Maggie Gray, anchor for SI.com, discusses who to look out for during the summer Olympics.
On The WBEN Liveline
CBS's Steve Futterman In London
Alan Pergament, StillTalkinTV.com
Watch your head for Flying Squirrels at the London Olympics. There's more than one of 'em.
U.S. Greco-Roman wrestler Ellis Coleman earned that nickname a few years ago because of his risky, signature move of the same name. Pint-sized gymnast Gabby Douglas earned the exact same moniker for the way she seems to fearlessly fly through the air on the uneven bars.
The two Flying Squirrels had a run-in Thursday - sort of.
"Oh my God, I think he wanted a picture with us today. He's pretty big, right?," said Douglas, asked whether she had met Coleman. "Yeah, I think so."
Turns out the photo never happened, though. Squirrels are hard to catch.
"We had to catch a bus," Douglas said, "so we didn't have time."
VOLLEYBALL AND HORSE GUARDS
The beach volleyball venue is taking up some prime London real estate: Horse Guards Parade, which is basically in the prime minister's front yard and not far from Buckingham Palace and Parliament, too.
So, what are the Horse Guards doing while their usual home is covered with sand? They're running through their usual routine across the street.
In a lesser-known changing of the guard, a group of blue-coated riders, some of them with shiny armor vests, sit facing another set wearing red.
A friendly bobby explained that the different colors represent different regiments.
MARCHING IN THE OPENING
Geno Auriemma says one of his fondest Olympic memories remains having the chance to march in the opening ceremony of the Sydney Games.
Far be it from him to deny his U.S. women's basketball team the opportunity.
Some athletes and teams who compete on the first full day of the Olympics traditionally tend to skip the opening ceremony the night before, simply because it's a late night and hours and hours of being on your feet during the entry parade.
But Auriemma's team will march, and he's perfectly fine with that choice.
"They all march. They will," Auriemma said. "No question, it's difficult. But you know, marching in the ceremony is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, maybe. And it's something everyone should get to experience."
CALL ME MAYBE
Missy Franklin's dancing skills are on full display in the U.S. swimming team's video set to the ubiquitous song "Call Me Maybe."
The 17-year-old teenager boogies down the aisle of a plane and whips her long hair around while lip-syncing to the Carly Rae Jepsen tune that has inspired countless viral videos.
Michael Phelps, wearing sunglasses, bobs his head from his airplane seat at the beginning.
Brendan Hansen grooves underwater, including some robot moves, and real-life couple Rebecca Soni and Ricky Berens move in for a kiss when a singing Dana Vollmer pops up between them. Ryan Lochte, with a towel wrapped around his upper body, smooches into the camera, a move sure to delight his female fans.
Matt Grevers shakes his booty, a dancing Anthony Ervin takes his hat off and jauntily tosses it at the camera, and Eric Shanteau does the sprinkler while going down a water slide at the team's pre-Olympic training camp in France. The video, which includes other U.S. swimmers, was posted Thursday on USA Swimming's web site.
Even Jon Urbanchek, a special coaching assistant, gets in on the act. He turns 76 this summer.
|AP's Jenna Fryer, out and about in London, reports it's hard to get in|
|Michelle Obama formally opened her stint as leader of the U.S. Olympics delegation on Friday morning, attending a breakfast with American Olympians and saying she was "just in awe" of their company.|
|In a way it was inevitable, given the size and scope of the event that is taking place in this most multicultural of capitals.|
|Great Britain is a kingdom made for a horse.|
|On a trip already marked by misstep, Mitt Romney has an Olympic history that could prove problematic: His stewardship of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City was not without controversy.|
|Mitt Romney wanted to highlight U.S.-British bonds - and show off his diplomatic skills to boot - but he managed to rankle the Olympic hosts instead, from Prime Minister David Cameron on down.|
|The mother of fencing star Mariel Zagunis pushed up her flight by two days and frantically packed her bags to make sure she gets to London in time.|
|Olympic cyclist David Millar, who served a two-year doping ban, was praised by the sport's top official on Thursday as a model for riders who face doping allegations.|
|Oksana Chusovitina shouldn't be here. Not wearing a leotard anyway. A coach's sweat suit maybe, but certainly not a uniform.|
|Looks like Romania can be scratched off the list of U.S. challengers.|
|For Michael Phelps, this is it. In his mind, there's no doubt about it. As soon as his hand touches the wall for the final time at the London Olympics, his swimming career is over.|
|Dmitry Baga scored in the first half to give Belarus a 1-0 win over New Zealand in their Group C opener at the Olympics on Thursday.|
|A minute of silence carved out of a three-hour opening ceremony is not too much to ask. It works out to little more than five seconds for each victim. Besides, the widows and families of the Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian gunmen at the 1972 Munich Games have been waiting for 40 years.|
|WNBA star Lauren Jackson will carry the Australian flag at the opening ceremony of the Olympics.|
|Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!|