1992 Albertville Winter Olympics
When Albertville, France, decided to boost its lagging tourism numbers by bidding (successfully) for the 1992 Winter Olympics, 13 other nearby towns in the French Savoy Alps saw that as a way to get in on the action too.
The French government spent more than $1 billion propping up the region's infrastructure between this series of small towns; the idea was to make it possible for athletes and spectators to easily traverse the 620 square kilometers (240 square miles) across which 57 Olympic events were held [source: CNBC]. (Only the opening and closing ceremonies and some skating events were actually held in Albertville.)
The government spent another $189 million building and improving sports venues. While some the towns garnered more tourists because of improved transportation, both during the Olympics and in the years that followed, Albertville didn't see any long-term boom. The French government was left with another legacy altogether: a $67 million loss and decades of debt [source: CNBC].