There are two sure ways to build new infrastructure: war and sports. Infrastructure is often looked at as an engineering or financing challenge, and it is both. More importantly, infrastructure is an exercise in mobilizing for a shared purpose. Building large shared facilities requires broad agreement on what the future will look like, and why it will pay off to upgrade the current system. After all, this generally involves significant amounts of public debt and subsidies that will be paid off over generations.
A common purpose, such as winning a war or winning international recognition, is a proven way for leaders to mobilize public support for these kinds of bets on the future. Needless to say, war comes with many other side effects, and should be avoided at all costs. That leaves sports. There are lots of reasons to critique the kinds of pointless spending sprees that accompany these events — just ask the people of Brazil about hosting the World Cup and Summer Olympics. But maybe, just maybe, we can harness the enthusiasm for sports for something visionary and transformative.
That’s the idea behind this long-form proposal to move the 2022 FIFA World Cup from Qatar to the Pacific Northwest.
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