Thursday, November 7, 2002 Updated: November 8, 12:36 PM ET
The City Games
By Jim Caple Page 2 columnist
Some people were appalled last weekend when the United States Olympic Committee selected New York City as this country's candidate to be host for the 2012 Olympics, citing concerns over the extraordinary cost, the suffocating crowds and the potential for corruption and traffic congestion. New Yorkers, however, understand that there was no better choice for carrying the U.S. torch than NYC, The City Where Love Resides.
New York City and the Olympics -- a match made in heaven.
The New York City Olympic Organizing Committee (NYCOOC) promises that if chosen, NYC would be host of the finest Olympics in history. And how could it not?
The notorious traffic problems plaguing all Olympic cities will be nonexistent in New York, thanks to the city's famous clean, speedy and startlingly quiet subway system. The subway has always been the most pleasant and efficient way around town, and now it is even more so, thanks to yet another round of bi-partisan work from Mayor Bloomberg, Sen. Clinton, Gov. Pataki, Rev. Sharpton and Regis Philbin.
Subway delays, already a rarity, will become a thing of the past. Fans will be able to reach any Olympic venue within 15 minutes -- which is almost unfortunate, considering the vast array of free performances that NYCOOC Public Transportation and Entertainment executive vice president Lorne Michaels has scheduled aboard the trains. Jerry Seinfeld, Woody Allen and Billy Crystal have graciously agreed to perform hourly from 7 a.m. to midnight on random trains throughout the Olympics, while Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and Billy Joel will play at various stops along the line. The Rockettes will do their famous leg kicks along platforms throughout the city.
With all that talent to watch, getting lost would almost be desirable. But don't count on that happening. Not with Rudy Giuliani working the MTA information line and fashion models meandering through the subways to personally instruct fans which trains to take.
Public transportation will not be the only way around town, though. Far from it. Thanks to NYC's famed fleet of yellow cabs, fans will feel as though they have their own personal taxis at their disposal 24/7. NYCOOC will hand-select drivers for their personality, wit, manners, extensive knowledge of city streets and ability to speak at least four languages. These friendly drivers will whisk their passengers via the quickest, most direct route to a venue and will always pull over to pick up stranded fans, regardless of race, weather, location or time of night. They will not accept tips (nor do they ever).
The Plaza Hotel can't wait for you to show up.
Housing fans affordably is an unending problem at most Olympics, but that wouldn't be the case in New York. In a typical show of public service, NYC hotels will lower their already famously rock bottom-room rates so even the poorest fan may set up camp for a week or more. The Plaza, for instance, promises an Olympiad special, offering rooms for just $59 a night throughout the competition. If that sounds high compared with the normal bargain rate for a New York hotel room, bear in mind that it's for a suite, complete with free room service and same-day laundry. And, as always, the in-room mini-bar is provided gratis.
Don't worry about the athletes, though -- NYCOOC will pamper them so spectacularly that most will insist on permanent residency. Begin with the accommodations. Olympic Village rooms are typically small, sterile and noisy dorm rooms, but that won't be the case in NYC. Robert De Niro has already drawn up plans for an Olympic Village addition in TriBeCa that will be so fashionable even gold medalists may not be able to get beyond the velvet rope, especially if they win the medal in a trash sport such as rhythmic gymnastics or Taekwondo.
Fortunately for the others, thousands of New Yorkers are already on a waiting list to turn their apartments, condos and townhomes over to athletes for free (with the refrigerators fully stocked with the finest meats and cheeses from Dean & Deluca). One would expect nothing less from the famously generous New Yorkers, who only want to share the rent-controlled luxury every last one of them enjoys. But this is also a win-win situation for everyone involved, because Martha Stewart, Calvin Klein, Alec Baldwin and dozens more have agreed to house displaced New Yorkers at their estates in the Hamptons.
Security poses no problem, either. Rather than the obtrusive national guardsmen who patrolled the streets of Salt Lake City last winter, New York will guard its Olympics with its elite force of doormen/building superintendents, each one a finely honed fighting machine, skilled in the martial arts and counterterrorism tactics. Don't even think of trying to sneak your way past them with a bribe -- NYC doormen/supers consider any sort of gratuity to be a profound insult. The knowledge of a job well done is more than reward enough.
Here's a sneak peek at the seats The Boss will add to the Stadium.
As far as the venues themselves, rather than build expensive white elephants, such as Montreal's Olympic Stadium, New Yorkers will give facelifts to its existing landmark stadia, which is like putting gloss on Julia Roberts' lips -- it only improves a work of art. To accommodate the expected throngs, Yankee Stadium will gain an extra 40,000 seats, all of them spacious, padded recliners with superb views of the field and only a few steps from the concession stands and restrooms, which will be so plentiful that there will never be a wait.
Tickets will be as inexpensive as they are plentiful, with every New Yorker receiving two free, along with the annual tax rebates that give the city the lowest tax rates in the civilized world.
No wonder then that New Yorkers are already so excited about the Olympics, flooding sports talk show phone lines last weekend with fierce debates over the modern pentathlon. Even the city's last remaining homeless man was heard arguing with himself over whether synchronized swimming belongs in the Olympics. And don't worry about him, either. His homeless days will be over once he's employed as one of NYCOOC's official mascots.
How will NYC pay for all this? The same way the city paid for the Statue of Liberty's pedestal. Children, already benefiting from the nation's finest public schools, will donate a few pennies each week, gladly sacrificing a candy bar a month to bring the world to New York. NYCOOC accountants expect that will likely cover all costs of being the host city for the Olympics, but if not, George Steinbrenner and Donald Trump, the city's two leading philanthropists, have again stepped forward to say they will personally make up any difference.
With all that going for it, there is only one possible drawback to New York City being host for the 2012 Olympics.
The YES Network has already secured the broadcast rights.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.