As climate change looms, New York bets big on winter sports tourism

New York is heavily investing in winter sports and tourism facilities to boost jobs and tourism, despite concerns about climate change and economic viability.

The investment: Over the last six years, close to $620 million has been invested into the Olympic Regional Development Authority’s venues in Lake Placid.
* The organization manages a state-funded convention center and three alpine ski areas and is one of upstate New York’s biggest employers.
* The aim is to attract more tourists and enhance job opportunities in the region.

The criticism: Critics argue the capital expenditure on sports venues, predicted to reach over $1 billion, may not yield sufficient economic returns.
* Some experts question the sustainability of the investment, especially as many Olympic venues around the globe are often abandoned due to high maintenance costs.

Weather matters: Climate change and increasingly milder winters could pose a considerable risk to winter sports tourism in the state.
* In 2016, revenues plummeted as the Lake Placid area experienced half the usual amount of snowfall.
* The uncertainty surrounding how future weather conditions might impact operations is a concern.

Looking ahead: Despite the debate and concerns, requests for state subsidies to support these venues are on the rise.
* The Olympic authority’s board has asked for approximately $120 million per year from the state legislature until at least 2027.

Stakeholders’ take: CEO of the Olympic authority, Mike Pratt, believes the investments are vital for the upkeep of New York’s Olympic heritage and future sustainability, while critics like economist Andrew Zimbalist question the practicality of maintaining such large-scale sports projects.

View original article on NPR

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