Chicago Olympics, 2016

Chicago is one of the finalists to get the Summer Olympics for 2016. The other three finalists are Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro (I had originally listed Buenos Aires, but was corrected – my mistake), and Madrid. A decision will be made in October of 2009.

As my wife and I were driving home from vacation last week, we had a chance to chat in the van while the kids were sleeping. The topic of the Olympics came up, after we heard a report from Beijing on the radio. Conversation got around to the bid by the city of Chicago to host the 2016 Summer games.

After mashing it around a bit we both agreed that the citizens of the city of Chicago and the State of Illinois would get soaked – bad – if they got this. Even if the city and state broke even financially (ha!) the unbelievable inconvenience it will give to the citizens will be remarkable. According to the plan (large pdf here) Monroe Harbor would be unavailable to all non Olympic boating for over a year, after the $60 million breakwater is installed for the rowing events. Canoeing would held on the site of the former Meigs Field, where Daley showed the true power of a dictator.

The plan also touts the world class transportation system. My wife and I had a good chuckle over that. Even a cursory reading of the CTA Tattler puts that fallacy to rest.

The application alone costs $50 million. Incredible, no?

Well, I am pretty sure that the citizens of Chicago will be losers if they get the games, but I could also think of some winners. Lake County is one. There they will get some piece of the action such as equestrian events and shooting events. Other winners will be Midwest colleges and universities with their ample supply of empty summer dorm rooms and soccer fields and the like. Teams arrive months in advance of the games to practice and get their athletes used to the atmosphere in the host country. I would bet that here in Madison we would most certainly host a nation or two with our facilities of the UW to offer.

According to the wiki, the costs of the $50m bid and the games themselves will be absorbed by private parties, where the costs of the infrastructure will be absorbed by government. I find this interesting. I can’t imagine spending that sort of money just to see Chicago get the games. Aren’t there charities or anything else that private individuals could spend their money on to be more productive? But I digress.

The paragraph titled “financing” in the wiki about the who’s and what’s of the money is very interesting.

Time will tell if Chicago gets the games – and if they do, what sort of mayhem – or glory – it will bring to the Windy City.

If nothing else, I am hoping that Chicago gets the games to see if Carl makes good on his threat to finally move away from there. He has said to me several times that if Chicago gets the games he will leave – we will see.

Cross posted at LITGM.

20 thoughts on “Chicago Olympics, 2016”

  1. Our RINO mayor tried to get the games for NY.I would have preferred the French got stuck with it,but London was the unlucky one. Good luck to you on dodging that bullet.

  2. I really do not understand the economic appeal of the games. I simply don’t believe that the same funds could not produce greater good by doing something actually productive such a building a factory.

    I think the Olympics become a sort of status competition for the elite of cities and countries. Its a form of conspicuous consumption. By hosting the great white elephant of the Olympics, a locality demonstrates it has the surplus wealth and organization to pull it off.

  3. One “advantage” Chicagoans may have here is timing. The IOC likes to spread the Olympics around, and with the USA having already hosted two of the last seven Summer Games, and one Winter Games in the same span, it seems to me the only way they’ll give Chicago the nod just 20 years after Atlanta, and 14 after Salt Lake, is if all the other bidding cities simultaneously fall on their faces.

    On the other hand, it’s my understanding that that’s how Atlanta ended up with the ’96 Games in the first place – even though the IOC was reluctant to give the USA another Games just twelve years after Los Angeles, the other cities’ bids just didn’t measure up.

  4. Joshua – Japan just had Nagano in 1998 so that would be 18 years between olympics and Spain had Barcelona in ’92. Buenos would have the advantage by this reasoning. Honestly I think that the biggest bribe gets the Olympics.

  5. The IOC is a racket.

    It’s obvious who benefits from Olympics in Chicago. The pols who get to spend the huge new pile of cash benefit. The contractors and unions benefit. Some local businesses benefit. The people who pay for most of it get screwed, as do City residents in general.

    Carl, get your ass out of there while there is still time.

  6. I lived in Atlanta 1956-1997, and we hung around a year after retiring, in part to see how the Olympics worked out. It turned out to be almost a non-event for the locals. The Games and the transient spectators are almost completely isolated by the exclusive transportation and lodging deals of the IOC. Any American city would do better to avoid hosting.

    Your comments above are all relevant, particularly the statist and elitist character of the IOC. The IOC should just buy an island and a mountain and convert them to permanent venues for hire.

  7. If Chicagoians think their taxes are high now, just watch them sky rocket as high as the fireworks at the opening ceremony if the “City With Big Shoulders” lands the Olympics. After watching what Beijing has done I don’t know if Chicago could come close to achieving. It will be in the end, another expensive, taxpayer funded boondoggle.

    Danny L. McDaniel
    Lafayette, Indiana

  8. Sergio: Buenos aires is not a finalist. It is rio de janeiro.

    And isn’t Rio the current favorite anyway, because of (1) Brazil’s emergence as an economic power and (2) the desire to hold an Olympics in a Southern Hemisphere nation other than Australia for the first time? Methinks that, unless their OOC screws things up royally in the next twelve months, the 2016 Games are Rio’s to lose.

  9. Nothing makes more harm to North-South relations than having Americans mistake Brazil with surrounding countries. Reagan did that in 1982 (“I would like to raise a toast to the people of Bolivia” at a dinner at Brasilia) and was never forgiven.

    Confusing Argentina and Brazil is adding insult to perjury. It’s like a public declaration of “I don’t care”. And makes both sides MAD.

  10. No problems, Dan. Not upset at all. It’s just that it happens more than once, and every time it does all us US-philes get this avalanche of “I-told-you-so” nationalist-leftist trash.

    And this is the kind of trash whose stains are stubborn the most. But you don’t need me to tell you that.

  11. It *is* a competition for elites. That’s why Daley wants it so much. Too show how great a city Chicago is. And is a great city. But not because of the elites (hate that word, who the hell are the elites to think they are elite?).

    Boondoggle is correct. It will be awful. Be afraid. Be very afraid….

  12. The “elites” in Chicago are insecure—always talking about Chicago as a “World-Class City” even when the reference is meaningless or gratuitous, thereby betraying insecurity on that point. They want the Olympics to validate Chicago’s importance, and therefore their own.

    Secondarily, it’s a LOT of money to spread around in the local “Friends and Family” program.

    Any benefit to un-connected residents or institutions is only important in that some semi-credible claims have to be made about it, but that’s the extent of that.

    I write from Chicago, and was peripherally involved in planning for the failed 1992 World’s Fair, which died in large part because the people planning it did not take seriously the need to demonstrate real long-term benefits—and when Harold Washington replaced Jane Byrne, there was no reason for HIM to continue one of HER legacy projects.

    The names change but the elite attitudes on these points are eternal.

  13. Also writing from Chicago, I was at one time enamored with the idea of the games, but have soured on them. The only benefit I can see would be a forced upgrade of the CTA system, but that should be done anyway. The current management of the city and county budgets and the increase in sales tax were the final nail for me. The last thing the city needs is more debt.

    Clearly, the mayor wants to do this as a exclamation point upon his reign, er, term, as mayor. [one cynic told me that he needs a new big long-term project for his union backers now that McCormack Place is finished – the olympic village] Already different interest groups are starting to make noise about making sure they get their share of the sugar that will be spread around.
    For Barcelona, the games boosted redevelopment of some sea-side areas, but in Chicago, those areas along the shore from down town to Hyde Park are going to redevelop on their own, privately; and Daley has said that the Olympic Village site will be redeveloped whether we get the Olympics or not.

    I say: meh

    If it does happen, though, I won’t be leaving town. Too much good people watching to miss.

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