Wednesday, April 19, 2006

If You Build It, They Won't Come

Toronto's city fathers labour under the impression that Toronto must host one major worldwide event, whether it be the Olympics or World's Fair, before it can be truly considered a world-class city.

But world's fairs are no longer the draw that they once were, and they have faded in the public consciousness accordingly.

Quick test: where were the last three Summer Olympics held? Where were the last three Expos held?


Someone has to break the bad news to city council:

The attendance forecast in a study backing a possible bid to play host to a world's fair in Toronto in 2015 is far too optimistic, according to a review prepared for the Toronto Economic Development Corp.

The feasibility study's approach, which was to extrapolate from the number of visits to Expo 67 in Montreal, using the contemporary population in Eastern Canada and the northeastern United States, is "simplistic," the review says.

The review, by California-based consulting firm Economics Research Associates in conjunction with world's fair expert Gordon Linden, says a reasonable forecast of a low, medium and high attendance would be 30 million, 40 million or 50 million visits, rather than the 72 million of the feasibility study.

The review also warns that "the world's fair industry faces widespread questioning as to enduring appeal and relevance in face of increasingly sophisticated competition from alternative location-based and electronic entertainment forms."

This downward trend isn't going to change any time soon. The last Expo in Aichi, Japan (which is the first you've probably heard of it) had only 22 million visitors over six months, a far cry from the 50 million who came to Expo '67.

By 2015, Expo Toronto might be competing with the CNE for the role of fastest-fading Toronto entertainment institution.

But hey, maybe it's just what we need to actually revitalize the waterfront, a project that has been regularly announced and shelved since the Pleistocene era.

1 comment:

Brian Lemon said...

Bang on - Stupidity piled on top of incompetence surrounded by fantasy.
Here's my post on this: