Advertising

Sunday, August 5, 1990 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

E-mail article     Print

Sharing The Moment -- The Legacy Of The Games -- Intangible Benefits May Be More Meaningful Than Physical Facilities

With Aeroflot jets departing, competitions drawing to a close and Turner Broadcasting System crews packing their gear, the first U.S. city ever to host a Goodwill Games spectacular can now ask: Just what was it?

-- ``A tremendous success,'' Games promoter Bob Walsh said.

-- ``The worst summer we've had since Mount St. Helens erupted,'' downtown restaurant owner Sandee Brock said.

-- ``A rather pleasant party for Seattle,'' Seattle historian Murray Morgan said.

And the views about what the $180 million sports-and-arts celebration implies for the future are equally varied.

The 1990 Goodwill Games may have been less than what some people desired, expected or feared but still - for better or worse - gave Seattle a chance to step up to a world microphone and draw attention bound to trigger ramifications for years.

``This town ought to be very proud of itself,'' said broadcaster Larry King, who was anchor of TBS coverage of the Games from the network's temporary studios at Seattle Center.

``You have the friendliest people I've ever met in America, no doubt about it,'' King said. ``It's the opposite of what you experience in most places.''

Exposure Seattle gained from the Games will undoubtedly help it land other major events, such as an Olympics or national political convention, as publicity and contacts pay off in the future, King said.

And what about that future?

When the Pepsi cans have all been recycled, when the Space Needle sheds its 600-pound faux-gold pendant and when the ever-present logo of tangled green, blue and red ribbons disappears from shops, restaurants and newspaper pages, will the Games fade from memory like a recent vacation?

Compared with the 1962 World's Fair, which left Seattle with a 605-foot-tall landmark in a 74-acre civic center, the physical legacy of the Games has been rather modest:

Federal Way has a new, world-class swimming complex; Husky Stadium has a new track; Port of Seattle police have a new bomb-handling robot; and Edmundson Pavilion has new floor.

But in addition - and probably more important - said Walsh, president of the Seattle Organizing Committee, are a host of things ``harder to put your

arms around.''

Those are likely to be as varied as the people involved: new and stronger friendships, increased international business contacts, closer cooperation among police agencies, expanded exchange programs in culture and the arts.

``It's all the interaction of people . . . friendships that were made and many business opportunities that are going to be made available for Soviets and Americans,'' he said.

The intangible legacy cited most often is the wealth of people-to-people contacts developed in Washington State over the last three weeks as more than 1,000 Soviet citizens visited, many hosted by American families.

``A lot of prejudices and stereotypes were dissolved,'' said Martha Wilson, spokeswoman for Rotary International, sponsor of the major exchange program. ``A lot of warmth and friendship were exchanged.''

Wilson said the program will likely lead to more exchanges, scholarship programs and group studies.

Some of the closest ties were forged within the 10,000-strong army of volunteers, people who worked side-by-side running errands, helping with setup and cleanup work, taking tickets and driving visitors around.

For them, and for the 250 people employed by the Games, contacts made in the last weeks may pay off as friendships, networks, business contacts and employment opportunities.

For the general public, the lasting imprint will include those hard-to-quantify elements of civic pride and self-image.

``It's the recognition by a large number of Seattle people that we are an international city,'' said Mayor Norm Rice. ``What I think the legacy is going to be is this incredible exposure to arts and sports . . . Seattle hasn't had that opportunity in this city all at once. That has piqued and whetted people's appetites for more.''

Rice especially endorses the idea promoted by some arts leaders of following the Goodwill Arts Festival with similar, possibly smaller-scale, festivals every two or three years.

For police, the future will hold benefits drawn from the cooperation of two dozen agencies and jurisdictions working more closely than ever before.

``We made relationships through the planning process and the operational process that we've never had before. We think that legacy is the best and most permanent one we get out of this,'' said Seattle Police Major Dale Douglass, chairman of the law-enforcement Joint Forces Coordinating Committee.

Lieutenants, sergeants and patrol officers now know some of their counterparts in other agencies by their first names, and that could pay dividends in dealing with common problems such drugs and gangs, Douglass said.

The economic legacy of the Games includes a loss for Turner Broadcasting estimated at more than $26 million.

``But in my opinion,'' TBS president Ted Turner said at a news conference yesterday, ``it's a reasonable down payment towards an event that will grow in stature and at some point in the future should break even.''

Locally, officials of the Seattle Organizing Committee said when the balance sheets are complete in October or November, there should be no major losses here.

Turner had high praise for the way the Games were carried out in Seattle, but said a decision on whether TBS will stick with the sports festival that debuted four years ago in Moscow will be made by the company's board, probably within the next six weeks.

Also at yesterday's news conference, Soviet sports and broadcast officials praised just about everyone associated with the Games: organizers, spectators, volunteers, judges, staff, media and area residents.

``We're going to use what has occurred here as a very good example for us,'' said Pyotr Reshetov, vice chairman of Gosteleradio, the Soviet national broadcast network. The 1994 Goodwill Games are scheduled to be held in Moscow and Leningrad.

For area businesses, the short-term legacy of the 1990 Games may have been symbolized by some empty taxi cabs and hotel rooms in downtown Seattle, where tourists just didn't materialize in the numbers expected.

But the long-term commercial impact of the Goodwill Games might best be symbolized in two words: Almond Roca.

In the not-so-distant future, Brown & Haley of Tacoma is planning to wow the Soviet Union with the introduction of its nutty caramel candy.

``They are in serious discussions with the Soviets - it's their first contact into that market,'' said Scott Jackson, president of TRADEC, the project coordinator for the Goodwill Trade Exhibition held in Seattle.

``There is no question this area will benefit from the exposure,'' said Reed Hansen, an economic consultant. ``The 54 million people with cable in the U.S. will have seen a great deal about the natural wonders of this area. From a tourism point of view, that is very positive. If you're a Lesser Seattle type, that may not seem very positive.''

Lesser Seattleites may instead have plenty to fret about.

``Tourism is the third-largest industry in the state and most rapid-growing . . . For the next decade, tourism will benefit from the Goodwill Games,'' said Dick Outcalt, retail strategist.

Patrick McFarlan, marketing director for the Westin Hotel, said, ``I can't comprehend anything else happening in Seattle that would have the potential long-term effect on the city'' that the Games have had.

McFarlan's rosy prediction comes despite the fact that the hotel had about 75 percent of the business expected during the Games.

``The caveat on that was that we probably anticipated a little too aggressively - as a hotel, a community and the Seattle Organizing Committee. The Games were just a little oversold, and we all took the hook,'' he said.

Some businesses may have found new international customers, but in downtown Seattle, there were plenty of businesses complaining about too few of them.

At the Pike Place Market, for example, some merchants said it was so barren last Saturday you could roll a bowling ball down the aisles.

Sandee Brock, owner of the Pike Place Bar & Grill, said her business was about 30 percent less than usual for this time of year.

Why?

``Because of what the media said about the Games: Don't go downtown.''

Some of Seattle's minority-owned businesses prospered from the Games, particularly after King County Councilman Ron Sims met with Walsh and persuaded him to get more of them involved.

Among the side effects of the Sims-Walsh sessions was a trip to the Soviet Union for a dozen Rainier Valley all-star baseball players, ages 11-13.

Still, the Games themselves didn't percolate into much of the minority community, Sims said. ``There wasn't a groundswell of grassroots interest. That surprised me,'' Sims said. He said ticket prices may have been a factor.

Bob Santos, director of the International District Public Development Authority, said there was no discernable impact on his neighborhood.'

``Is there a Goodwill Games out there?'' he asked, partly tongue-in-cheek. ``It's like a normal tourist season.''

For local organizers, the money question - will they or won't they have enough of it - has been the nagging issue.

But organizers are in better shape now than three months ago, when they began shuffling staff and saving money by employing people for shorter times than initially planned.

``We are going to balance the budget,'' insisted Kathy Scanlan, Games executive vice president.

Organizers saved money during the Games by reducing such things as bus service for athletes and the news media. And they have raised additional revenues, some of which they decline to discuss.

``It's not looking as bleak as it once did,'' said one organizing-committee official. ``We're not talking millions, we are talking thousands.''

Overall, federal, state and local governments may spend close to $40 million on the Games, primarily for security and the county's share of the aquatics center.

The cultural events held in conjunction with the Games impressed Murray Morgan, dean of Seattle historians.

``I don't think the city has a feeling of triumph or accomplishment, I think it is more a feeling of relief,'' he said. ``It didn't mess traffic up. It didn't go on its face. It turned into a rather nice little party for Seattle.''

Copyright (c) 1990 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

advertising


Get home delivery today!

Advertising