Dear Member of the
International Olympic Committee:
The more people learn about Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics, the less they support it. Today's Chicago Sun-Times published a summary of the defects of the bid.
Chicago 2016 Olympics debate amps up
CHICAGO 2016 | With decision a month away, here are pros, cons of hosting Games
September 6, 2009 - BY LISA
DONOVAN Staff Reporter - firstname.lastname@example.org
Chicago's now in the final lap. Next month, we'll find out
whether Mayor Daley and his team cross the finish line first or go down as an
also-ran in the race to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The Chicago 2016 organizing committee is in
the midst of a last-minute phone and letter-writing campaign to the 107-member
International Olympic Committee, hoping to allay concerns that Chicago's
transit system can't handle the influx of just over a million visitors during
the Games or that Chicago's
financing plans don't provide an adequate safety net.
Chicago 2016 chief executive
Patrick Ryan said the bid team wants IOC members, who will select a host city
Oct. 2 in Copenhagen, to know they've cleared several hurdles, including
getting the City Council's blessing for the mayor to sign the controversial host-city
contract -- which puts taxpayers on the hook if a Chicago Olympics ended up
The mayor's announcement in June that he'd
sign the agreement was a surprise, fueling criticism that the process was
shrouded in secrecy. Even some of the aldermen were ticked off, and a
ward-by-ward community meeting blitz followed. There, the Olympic bid team --
minusthe mayor -- touted the jobs and tourism dollars that pour in to
an Olympic city.
Still, some questioned whether the city could
afford to host the Games.
Here's a look at some of the pros and cons:
Pro: A "frugal" $4.8 billion plan to stage
the Games, including an Olympic Village whose transformation from athlete
dormitories to permanent housing is expected to help with costs. The Games would
be bankrolled by private donors, and just under half of the planned venues are
in existing facilities, touted as a cost-saver.
has a history of missing deadlines and going over budget with its big projects
- including the $480 million Millennium
Park, which opened in
Allen Sanderson, a University of Chicago economics professor, said
that while Chicago is making use of its existing
facilities, "You're still building the biggest venues - the village, the
stadium, which are not only big-ticket items for Chicago,
but for . . . London,
too." The Olympic Village is priced at around $1 billion, while the proposed
Olympic Stadium in Washington
Park is priced at $397.6
is on track to spend $18 billion for the 2012 Olympics - more than double what
it budgeted, Sanderson noted.
Pros: Chicago 2016 has been touting that the
Games would create 315,000 new job years, or roughly 31,000 jobs over a decade.
Cons: Just what "315,000 job years means" is
a stumper. Tom Tresser, spokesman for the group "No Games Chicago," said the
figure doesn't say whether this is long-term employment or for a single year.
And Tresser said he remains concerned that the Olympic organizing committee
running things - with City Hall entrenched in the process - will follow the
tradition of trading jobs for political favors.
Pro: With a projected 4 billion viewers
tuning in to the Games and TV cameras panning across Lake Michigan and the
dramatic skyline over Grant Park, Chicago
could shed its image as a metropolis in flyover country and bump up its tourism
Con: Just how long Olympic fever can sustain
that remains in question.
Pros: The IOC's evaluation team, in a visit
here last spring, praised Chicago 2016 for creating a lineup of 31 venues that
would leave behind no white elephants - like Beijing's architecturally stunning
but now-empty Bird's Nest stadium. The city's plan makes use of 15 existing
facilities and calls for building six new venues that would all be scaled back
after the games - including the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium.
Cons: The question remains, then, whether
there's a visual centerpiece that would be left behind. "Maybe the Olympic
Village - I don't know if it's a grabber or not," Sanderson said. "Depends on
whether people want to walk through an Olympic Village."
Pros: The city and region are expecting, as
other American cities have, millions in federal dollars to fix and upgrade the
public transit system. That's important, considering the IOC's concern that
Metra might not be able to handle a spike in demand during the Games.
Cons: Plans for public
transit upgrades should be part of a 20-year plan and focus on regional and
local needs. The concern, according to Sanderson, is that upgrades would be too
tightly focused on July and August 2016 and not for the following years and
decades. Also, during the Games, 366 miles of Chicago area roadways, including two lanes in
either direction of Lake Shore
Drive and single lanes of the Kennedy and Stevenson expressways, would be closed.
|Chairman of Chicago's CTA Admits $7 Billion in Unfunded Repairs
CTA Chairman Carole L. Brown gave a speech to the APTA Rail Conference in Chicago on June 15, 2009.
In it she revealed an alarming backlog of repair work for our mass transit system.
"We still have an almost $7 BILLION - yes, 7 BILLION DOLLARS of unfunded repair needs."
Read her full remarks here.