Chicago 2016

Chicago wins U.S. Olympic bid for 2016, but at what cost?

Chicago 2016 logo

Hosting the Olympics in Chicago may not be the best idea

The U.S. Olympic Committee announced today Chicago as its lone bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics in what U.S.O.C. Chairman Peter V. Ueberroth called “a very tough decision.” (Listen to the U.S.O.C. announcement here).

Chicago will be up against a formidable slate of cities rumored to be Madrid, Tokyo, Rome and Rio de Janeiro.

But so far, with a projected price tag well over $1 billion, the question to me still remains: Would having the Olympics in Chicago be a good thing? Already the City of Chicago and State of Illinois have pledged to throw in some dough – $500 million and $150 million respectively – in case the Games were to lose money.

Pardon me, but isn’t this what’s called an investment? Already, the city’s Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority is slated to transfer $125 million from the sale of public air rights and some land near McCormick Place to the Olympic efforts.

Chicago has also unveiled plans to build a $366 million, 80,000-seat temporary stadium in Washington Park and a $1.1 billion lakefront athletes’ village. (Check out a January 2007 Sun-Times article on this risky move.)

ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS ALERT: Here is the City Council’s authorization for Mayor Daley and Lori Healey, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development to do whatever it takes to make the Games happen, regardless of whether the investment stream dries up. (Check out Section Two of the ordinance.) This means that more money can – and will – be taken from the city and state if (when, really) construction runs over budget.

Listen, folks. New Yorkers didn’t want the Olympics. Do Chicagoans really want it? Will hosting the Games suddenly make Chicago a better city? Let’s be serious.

But then again, if Atlanta can have one… (cough)

NOTE: In case you forgot, here’s why the Chicago 2016 committee thinks you should support the Games.