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...