World Cup Runneth Under
Thank you, South Africa, for hosting a memorable World Cup. Long will we remember the glorious goals, ignominious calls and cacophonous vuvuzuelas of the 2010 tournament. And may the spirit of fair play and global kinship survive within your borders long after the last group of fans has flown away.
Why, you wonder, are we so nostalgic even before a winner is crowned this weekend?
Simple, because once that last batch of Dutch and Spanish supporters says goodbye, South Africa will be looking at one heck of a hangover for this global soccer party. Similar to Greece after its turn as Olympic host, South Africa will be hard pressed to recoup the billions of dollars it spent building and renovating stadiums.
And if they do fill the stands of those soon-to-be white elephant stadiums, it will be for another sport entirely, said Jean-Francois Mercier, an economist at Citigroup in an interview on Bloomberg
"The problem with soccer in South Africa is that it is not a high-paying spectator sport or a high sponsor-attracting sport," said Mercier to Bloomberg. "Using some of these stadiums for rugby matches could help."
Of course rugby is a sport primarily popular with the white wealthy elite, as opposed to the poor black majority that has been filling the stands to capacity for the monthlong soccer tournament. South African President Jacob Zuma, however, said in an address that those stadiums will inevitably pay for themselves, maybe with an Olympic bid.
"I don't think anyone today would say no if South Africa said 'Let us have the Olympics,' because they know we have got the facilities," Zuma said.
After seeing the financial destruction in Greece after it hosted the 2004 Summer Games, we should give Zuma a red card just for even thinking about it.
Dumb-o-meter score: 80 -- Anybody want to rent out a 68,000-seat stadium in Cape Town? They can refit it for wedding and bar mitzvahs!