In America's collective imagination, Tijuana is the perpetual stand-in for the dusty border town. It's the home of the donkey show, buckets of beer and velvet Elvis paintings.
But a funny thing happened while we weren't paying attention:
TJ grew up and became a world city. Really.
The 1.5-million population town is the LCD TV manufacturing capital of the world. It's part of an explosion of foodie interest in Baja's culinary scene. And it has thriving arts and music communities that have grabbed the attention of global scenesters.
Today U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun revealed that Tijuana and San Diego have expressed interest in hosting the 2024 summer Olympics jointly.
Social science academics in Southern California have long spoken of a San Diego-Tijuana “border region” with interconnected economies and cultures, making the combined towns a near-5-million population metropolis approaching the size of the Bay Area.
That was all in theory of course, and once you come to the international border crossing you realize these places are just as distinct and separate as they are enmeshed.
A 2024 Olympics in the area, however, could go a long way toward proving that San Diego and Tijuana are joined at the hip (and toward the idea that the United States and Mexico are long-lost siblings).
The SD-TJ bid would be up against Los Angeles' own desire to host those Summer Games too.
The USOC will have to chose one of about 10 cities that have expressed interest, according to Blackmun. He said he wants the United States to put its best foot forward in battling world cities for the games.
San Diego-Tijuana games would have the advantages of electrifying America's growing Latino audience while also tapping into Latin American viewers. The downside? Remember those drug-cartel wars? They're not over.
Security would be a bitch.