Chicago says "No Games!"
No Games Chicago Update
25 Days To Decision
Daily News

September 6, 2009
The People Speak

A recent Tribune poll showed 86% of Chicagoans against using tax money for the Olympics. What makes Chicago a great city isn't the skyline or the lakefront, or the arts, it is the people! Chicago people make this a great city, and the people have made it clear they do not want to pay for this mess! Even a Sun Times online poll showed 78% against the Olympics recently! Why doesn't the Sun Times reflect the views of their readers?

Ken Kunz, reader comment on today's Sun-Times article

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Open letter
to the IOC
"Why you don't want to give the Olympics to Chicago"

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 -

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 losing money.

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.
Con: Chicago has a history of missing deadlines and going over budget with its big projects - including the $480 million Millennium Park, which opened in 2004.

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 million. London 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 numbers.

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.