Saturday, April 14, 2007

Chicago US Nominee for 2016 Olympics

Today they announced that Chicago will be the US candidate for the 2016 Olympics. Chicago went down to the wire against Los Angeles - LA has all of the stadiums built and ready to go, while Chicago will have to invest in some facilities. Per this WSJ article summarizing the bid:

Chicago offered a bid that hinges on building new facilities, mostly situated around the downtown lakefront and nearby parks. The centerpiece would be an 80,000-seat, $366 million temporary Olympic stadium that would be built in historic Washington Park. Chicago's plans also call for a $1.1 billion lakefront village that would be built near the convention center just south of downtown.

On the one hand, this is a moment of great pride for Chicago. The city went out and sought to be the US candidate, and it is a significant honor. The team from Chicago was successful in convincing the US Olympic committee despite the fact that a stadium needs to be built "from scratch" to hold the main events.

This Olympics bid (if it is successful) could also offer the impetus for the City Of Chicago to clean up its decrepit public transportation system, both the rail and the roadways. We could build new facilities in an area of town that lacks investment, and these could be a positive legacy for the city.

While I am striving to be upbeat, save this post with their estimates for the cost of this "temporary" stadium. If I had to bet I'd guess that the final cost of this stadium would be some significant multiple of this initial estimate. I also think that the "temporary" idea will ultimately lose luster - if due to construction over-runs we spend $1 billion on the facility, why would we tear it down after the Olympics? Why not use it for something constructive?

It is with trepidation that I think about all the years of construction and disruption that these projects will entail. The CTA is already snarled with desperate maintenance projects that don't even significantly add to capacity; they just keep the system from keeling over entirely (although there are some new stations).

Of course, all of this activity depends on whether or not Chicago is selected. There are a number of other cities in the running, including Rome, Rio and Tokyo. You'd have to think that these are some pretty serious contenders; if it is in Rome maybe they'd re-use the Colosseum :).

A happy day for Chicago, and a moment of pride. Let's not botch this...


CZ said...

Chicago Olympics? Not good news and I will tell you why. Someone will have to pay for it.

Chicago is totally controlled by scamming, cheating politicians and their union (outfit) cronies. But you already know this.

They will syphon off funds and create phoney cost over runs. Think Millennium Park X 100.

You will be taxed. More. Add-on taxes to everything from hotels to airline tickets to fuel to user fees of every kind. Again. They'll probably hike the sales tax 1-2%. More liquor taxes for sure, the bulk coming from the bars and clubs.

Illinois politicians are very creative when it comes to finding new ways to empty your wallet. Don't count out a tax on sports and entertainment seating.

The politicians (Daley will probably be gone by then) will do everything possible to keep from raising property tax but when they finally do they will blame it on Daley.

Top all that off with the new business tax from Blag O'Jevich. I am betting it passes.

By the time they start building this I will be fully retired and will not have to go anywhere near Chicago while all this mess is going down.

Issues will be major daily conjestion and heavy, heavy security.

Think Taste Of Chicago X1000. All over town.

But on the upside the Mich Ave. and River North stew bums will probably benefit quite nicely from all that foreign currency being stuffed into their empty Starbucks cups....

...just sayin'

Carl from Chicago said...

I was trying to start out optimistic... it is a day of pride for Chicago. The odds are, in the end, it will be a train wreck, but I am trying to hold out a slim hope that politicians will use this as a catalyst to get their act together. Remote chance, yes, but possible.

If it turns into a tax and spend disaster this might drive me out of the city by 2016...

CZ said...


With all due respect, my post was based on over 30 years of working and living in Illinois and Chicago and at the same time living with and studying the politics.

I was in no way trying to be flippant or depressing, just based in reality.

It's not a matter of if...but when. My brother just purchased a home in Crown Point IN after years of Illinois.

IF you are a smart investor (as I know you are) purchase some property in the hinterlands of Wisconsin or Indiana and start making plans. Now.

I did fifteen years ago, and have absolutely no regrets. You can have the best of both.

Life In The Great Midwest does not end at the Illinois border!


PS, I love your blog!