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Home > Media Reiews > News Review Last Updated: 14:52 03/09/2007
News Review #37: June 4, 2002

Legacy of World Cup May Be Stadiums

Reviewed By Hitoshi URABE

"Legacy of World Cup May Be Stadiums"
The New York Times

As if to cool down the heat when everyone is supposed be in a fever of excitement, this article carrying the sarcastic headline points out a blot in the grand design of this year's World Cup co-hosted by Japan and Korea. This is a concise story worth going through.

The article reports that equivalent of U.S. $4.6 billion was spent in Japan to build six new stadiums and to renovate four others. Each facility would be used for three or four games during the World Cup, but after that it seems to be inconceivable that any of these huge stadiums that could accommodate forty to sixty thousand spectators each would ever experience it to be filled again.

"A fiscal insanity" is the term cited in the article to describe the status as none of the facilities is expected to recover the investment. In fact, all of them, except one or two if very lucky, are assumed to generate significantly less cash than it would require just to maintain the facilities. Thus another comment cited in the article is very appropriate in stating that the stadiums "might just as well be ruins in the Egyptian desert."

Criticism has never been taken up seriously by national or regional governments. It was always explained as an investment to stimulate economy, especially of these regions where constructions are effected while creating jobs, seldom with explanations on the cash flow analysis after those monuments of financial grandeur are completed.

Japan has had quite a number of experiences of such "insane" investments. Nagano prefecture, where the Winter Olympic Games was held in 1998, is still struggling with grim prospect to recover from its debt-laden public finance. Many other regional governments sought various opportunities in the hope of promoting their economies, in the forms such as expositions, trade fairs, sporting events, amusement parks, only to see unsuccessful results, locking in taxpayers' money in virtually abandoned buildings and equipments.

The article cites another comment at the conclusion, a wit so effectively acerbic that it could provoke a burst of laughter rather than a wicked smile, "In order to keep the construction state going, the L.D.P. is going to have to issue new contracts - to tear the stadiums down."

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