As a longtime Londoner but not much of a sports fan, Elaine Potter has cast a skeptical eye over the Olympics and all the related fuss.
But gazing at the shiny new stadium in London's East End for the first time this week, Potter admitted to some second thoughts.
"It's looking good," said Potter, 56, who's tempering her opinion of the Olympics as one big headache. "It's quite good for London and for making London known."
Last Wednesday, 100 days before the July 27 opening ceremony, the countdown began in earnest to the world's biggest sporting event - and for the organizers charged with not only getting venues and volunteers ready, but also getting residents like Potter to feel excited about it and to change temporarily the way they live and work.
Except for a few glitches, the rollout has gone fairly smoothly, a showcase of British know-how and efficiency, officials say. Construction on several new stadiums is finished or nearly there, an extensive transportation plan is being refined, a massive security operation is under way and tickets have sold quickly.
But there's little room to take anything for granted in one of the world's most densely packed and gridlocked cities, a magnet for tourists and terrorists alike.
And London's status as an expensive destination has been borne out by the Olympics' price tag, which started at less than $4 billion but has been marked up several times to a whopping $15 billion. Critics say that could rise to as much as $21 billion, which, while only half of what China spent on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, is an immense sum in a time of the harshest government cutbacks in a generation.
A recent parliamentary report warned that the Olympic budget was "finely balanced," in danger of tipping into the red if organizers weren't vigilant. The delicate financial situation, lawmakers said, is due almost entirely to security.
A year and a half ago, organizers signed a deal with a security company worth about $136 million. But the estimated cost of keeping the Olympics safe has skyrocketed to $875 million, in part to hire twice the number of guards originally thought necessary.
Mindful that the Olympics and London make a juicy "two-for-one" target for terrorists, the government has pledged 7,500 troops to back up the guards at arenas. That has led to fears of an overly intrusive security presence in a city already blanketed by surveillance cameras.
"Our first priority must be to keep people safe, and we will be mobilizing every aspect of our security infrastructure," Prime Minister David Cameron said last month. "But it will be done in a way that is sensitive to the spirit of the games."
In many ways, more thought has gone into how to capitalize on the Olympics' afterglow and infrastructure than any previous games. The bid committee's plans for the Olympic "legacy," particularly how the new stadiums will be used after all the visitors go home, were key to winning the hosting contest in 2005.
Many venues are in East London, a deprived area once littered with ramshackle housing projects. Because of the Olympics, a huge shopping mall, an athletes' village that will be turned into apartments, a new school and other improvements have sprung up or are being planned.
The 80,000-seat main stadium sits in the largest green space created in London in centuries. Officials point out the Olympic Park was built ahead of schedule and under budget.
"We've busted the myth that Britain can't deliver a project like this," said Alan Collins, managing director of Olympic legacy for the U.K. Trade and Investment office.
A feel-good effect for the economy will be possible only if people feel good about their experience, of course, and a crucial part of that will rest on how well the city moves people from one place to another.
Ten rail lines serve the Olympic Park area. But visitors are being warned they might have to wait half an hour at peak times to board a train at some hubs. Officials are hoping regular passenger levels will drop by as much as 30 percent during those times to compensate.
Some bumps are inevitable, but Collins is confident the games' glow already has begun.
"It would have to be a pretty major glitch to knock the shine off," he said. "We're going to stage a great Olympics."