All The World's Fair Success Knoxville Had Could Be Replicated Here

Local marketing executive Manuel Delgado wants to bring a world's fair to Houston in 2020. He has been interested in world's fairs since he was a child, and that interest intensified when he worked for the expo in Seville in '92. "I've always been a big fanatic of world's fairs," he tells Hair Balls.

He knows his quest to host one here is quixotic, as he admitted to the Wall Street Journal. "If you ask most people in the U.S. about it, you're always going to get, 'Wow, they're still doing those? Oh, yeah, like they used to do in the 1800s,'" he tells us.

But he's not too worried by naysayers: "You either get it right away or it goes right over your head," he says. People who don't get it ask why any country would host a world's fair today, when people can access the latest and greatest technological advancements sitting on their computers in their own homes. "If that was true," counters Delgado, "there would be no tourism in the world. You can see a picture of the Eiffel Tower, but it's never the same as to see it."

Delgado can rattle off a long list of reasons why a world's fair in the U.S. is a good idea, chief among them that it would raise the esteem of the U.S. in the eyes of the world. In Houston, he says, it would create jobs and bring in investment.

But the U.S. has pulled out of the world's fair game -- it hasn't renewed its $25,000 yearly membership in the Bureau International des Expositions since 2001, and without cooperation with the BIE the international community likely wouldn't participate.

Delgado maintains contact with BIE and says the organization reacted positively to his idea for a world's fair in Houston, but, he says, "I think they're kind of burned by how many other teams have gone to them excitably talking about the world's fair. There's a little skepticism."

Delgado's team is working with architects and urban planners to figure out the best spot to put an expo would be. Some spots they've mentioned have been at the edge of downtown along Navigation, along the Brazos River out by Richmond/Rosenberg, and at the space where Greens Bayou and Buffalo Bayou connect. Wherever it was, he'd want the pavilions to become a permanent part of the city and not an abandoned wasteland after the fair, as has happened in other cities. (Which makes us wonder about the Richmond/Rosenberg thing, but whatever.)

They even have their theme already to go. It would be Exploring Humanity: A Vision for the Future. It would mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, he says (or a moon landing, we guess) and would highlight human exploration both technology-wise and culture-wise.

But he knows that it will be a challenge, to say the least, getting the U.S. to rejoin the organizing body, then actually bringing a world's fair here. "If this was easy, other cities would have done it," says Delgado. "The fact is that this is a daunting project, the biggest project we've ever worked on.

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