HOUSTON-With the 2012 Summer Olympics short list now public knowledge, Houston is in a race that could bring $500 million in new construction and $8 million in ancillary projects. That’s in addition to the obvious adrenalin shot for the city’s economy in general and an estimated $1.2-billion impact on the hospitality industry in particular.

It’s the long-term economic boost that many are looking at–$756 million annually for years afterward and a heightened destination location reputation. Todd Mason, president of the Houston Association of Realtors and vice president at Cushman & Wakefield of Texas Inc., says, without a doubt, that the impact of such a prestigious award would be tremendous on Houston’s commercial real estate industry. “I don’t think there will be a lot of speculation before the vote in 2005,” he tells GlobeSt.com.

But, Mason adds, the spark would reverberate all around the city. The Olympic Village is ticketed to be built between the University of Houston and Texas Southern University, in an area where investment these days is minimal, he says. Once the games are over, Houston would be left with the structures and the publicity to be more of a destination location, he assesses.

The numbers support what Mason terms a very positive deal. In a report developed by Jim Airola and Dr. Steven Craig, both from the University of Houston, the games would produce an immediate economic impact of a little more than $4.3 billion in new regional output while adding more than $1.4 billion in income to Houston residents. An additional 64,216 jobs would come with the games.

The legacy as the host city means another $756 million per year for the years following the games due to the heightened visibility and attractiveness of the region, according to Airola and Craig’s calculations. The estimates are predicated on the impact and after-effects of the 1996 Atlanta games.

Susan Bandy, president of the Houston 2012 Foundation, tells GlobeSt.com that the numbers are very conservative. Being the host city, she believes, would likely have an even greater positive economic impact. Houston is in the enviable position of needing to build just three more venues to host the games. A $40-million to $50-million natatorium will be built; the Astrodome will get an $80-million redevelopment; and a slalom-canoeing venue would be needed in the downtown. The $500 million in new construction primarily encompasses the Olympic Village and other related buildings. The final vote will be taken in 2005, with the winner being New York City, San Francisco, Washington, DC or Houston.

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