Dear Member of the
International Olympic Committee:
Today the Chicago City Council voted to approve the signing of the Host City Contract and the Mayor's pledge to you that city taxpayers will cover all expenses of the 2016 games as needed.
However, in today's Chicago Sun-Times, sports writer Rick Telander expresses what most people think.
We will pay to get 2016 Olympics
All of us will have to cough up whatever it
takes to host Olympics
RICK TELANDER Sun-Times Columnist - September 9, 2009
I believe now, as I have from the beginning,
that the battle for the 2016 Summer Olympics is a two-city fight. And maybe not
has had an Olympics before (1964), and the 2008 Summer Games were just held in Beijing. China may be as separate from Japan as a dog from a cat, but it's still in Asia. (The International Olympics Committee, a fairy
godmother with a wand, likes to move her clout around.)
may be one of the few major European capitals that hasn't been awarded the
Olympics, but fellow Spanish city Barcelona
hosted them in 1992, and that's close enough.
If the IOC truly wants to award the Games to
an entire continent that has never hosted them -- South America -- then Rio de Janeiro is the
spot. But Rio has offered itself four previous
times -- for the 1936, 1940, 2004 and 2012 Games -- and never advanced to the
elite candidate realm. And there are certain things, like crime and poverty,
that tend to discourage tuxedo-wearing international committee members.
I think we have it. I think it's in the bag.
With the bagmen, I suppose.
Our city's aldermen -- once red-faced and
concerned about things like cost overruns and limited public input -- have
swiftly been brought to the other -- Pat Ryan's and Duh Mare's -- side. Note, I
didn't say bought to the other side. But if there has ever been
something that wasn't for sale in Chicago,
I'm not aware of it.
On Tuesday the City Council's Finance
Committee authorized Mayor Daley to sign a host-city contract with the IOC.
That contract no doubt will be rubber-stamped today by the Council, and off we
What the contract means is that Chicago will pay whatever
is necessary to put on the Games, and swallow whatever losses come about
because of them. And Chicago
is not a thing, but you the taxpayers are.
Not that there will be losses.
But there could be. And if you don't know the
words ''cost overrun,'' then you have never heard phrases like ''city hall''
and ''Cook County.''
Perhaps the largest part of the Olympics --
which is itself a gigantic, spotlight-throwing, global money-making entity even
more than it is sporting contest, is the philosophy and involvement of the
citizenry in the host area.
In slightly more than three weeks, the IOC
will decide who gets the 2016 Games, and if it is Chicago -- which I strongly suspect -- our
civic leaders and connected real estate guys and union bosses and
favors-winners will rejoice.
The people will suffer
But it is the people of Chicago who will bear the brunt of the
construction, dislocation and wheeling-dealing that will ensue.
ESPN just announced that it will enter the
mammoth bidding war for broadcast rights to the 2016 Games. And the 30-year-old
network ain't joking around. Like Diddy dropping a dime, ESPN recently outbid
Fox by more than $100 million for four years of college's Bowl Championship
Oh, the money will be flying for this one!
And are you aware that Chicago Olympics execs
will be making, in some cases, over $500,000 a year salaries?
If you have any Chicago in you, you should now be asking,
I doubt you've ever been to an Olympics. I've
been to five. On three continents.
the people were very friendly, seemingly happy that visitors from thousands of
miles away had come Down Under, regardless of the mayhem in their city.
Angeles, nobody cared a fig.
many of the citizens kissed their city and its congestion goodbye, heading for
the Greek Isles and calm.
Lake City, a lot of visitors checked out the Mormon
headquarters, as did I, and thought ... These are pretty mountains, but I'm
not coming back.
No shortage of problems
Then there was Atlanta. Chicago
is 50 times the city Atlanta
was, is, or ever shall be. But we have -- and will have -- major budget
problems, and school issues, and so much else -- and the Olympics are like a
big party that rich folks enjoy and the underlings simply observe.
Chicago's Opening Ceremonies tickets? Nearly $1,800, tax
included. Now. And the price has already risen.
The thing that is most troubling about this
is Chicago's history of corruption, and the fact it is now perceived as somehow
unpatriotic, even small-minded and inhumane, to be against the city's bid.
A hugely expensive Chicago 2016 ad in
multiple media outlets Tuesday was written by Martin Luther King III and
essentially stated that to be against Chicago's
bid is to be against his famous grandfather's ''dream.''
King III cites Atlanta's 1996 Games as having been some kind
of boon and nirvana wrapped into one.
What I recall was a park bombing,
steroid-cheating and more T-shirt sellers than in Fort
Lauderdale and Miami
But I was there. And I guess reality isn't