The City of Orlando was not selected as a World Cup host on Thursday, ending a failed campaign that costs taxpayers a fortune. We might have well had taken those millions protected by the tourism industry and lit it on fire in the Camping World Stadium parking lot.
But I think about where else we could have spent that money (if the money wasn’t already locked away by big tourism).
We could have spent it on keeping families in their homes during this housing crisis.
We could have bought some more buses (instead of raising taxes to do so).
We could have used it to make our neighborhoods safer.
Instead, our elected leaders who do the bidding of the tourism executives that sign their campaign checks, decided to waste it on the chance they could get a game.
They’ll never admit it though. Instead, special interests in lodging and hospitality will say it was because we didn’t spend enough. That’s what they’ll say. If they were working in any other field they would be fired.
To the average working family in Orlando, today’s news isn’t a big loss. They wouldn’t have seen a dime from the World Cup anyways.
We must look at the funnel in which tourism revenue flows. Including how any money from the World Cup would have been spent. Follow the path.
Visitors arrive to Orlando International Airport: Where some workers are still making single digit wages. None of their money reaches surrounding neighborhoods.
They are shuttled to International Drive: Where they’re housed in hotels. Eat at chain restaurants. And visit nearby theme parks. None of their money reaches surrounding neighborhoods.
They are shuttled to Camping World Stadium: Visitors are taken straight to the game. There may be a Church Street party for the locals, but it’s a straight shot to the venue for everybody else. None of their money reaches surrounding neighborhoods, especially the struggling Parramore community near the location where the game is played.
They are shuttled back to the Airport and they leave: And the Tourism Development Tax Dollars they generate and we bankroll goes straight back to the tourism sector because of carefully crafted legislation that doesn’t let us spend it on other things like public safety and education.
And that’s that.
So, forgive families and workers that power this engine which serves only as a vehicle to make tourism executives wealthier, while they struggle to avoid being priced out of their community.
The truth is that we probably didn’t deserve the World Cup. We have too much work to do in order to take care of each other first.
Maybe we can pop that unused confetti when we save an Orlando family from being homeless. That’s a real reason to celebrate.