Chicago , the 2016 Olympics, and the other “O”
Although it seems forever away, Chicago recently hosted 13 inspectors from the International Olympic Committee to make assessments of the proposed Olympic plans. The Olympic bid comes at a time when Chicago has had some positive strides: beating out San Fran and LA for the bid (among others), President Obama’s big win; but also some bad press in state government (Blogo), debt. President Obama sent a special taped message to the inspectors and Oprah Winfrey even dined with them.
It has been suggested that Oprah has powers that run on par with super heroes. Mind control, etc., and now that we know what side Oprah is on and all the power players are in motion and fanfare on display, Chicago might seem to really have a shot at this.
1. But is it all enough? 2. And do we really know what we are asking for?
Question 1: No, it isn’t enough. Although the review was positive, “We are leaving with a very strong impression that the bid is a strong one,” said the evaluation commission’s chairwoman, Nawal el-Moutawakel, an Olympic gold medalist for Morocco. Chicago is still placed in last, Tokyo at number 1, according to independent Canada based website GamesBids.com. The biggest obstacle in Chicago’s way is…(drum roll)…finances. Chicago is the only city that is unable to give 100% financial guarantees.
Question 2: No, we don’t know what we are asking for. Chicago simply cannot afford this event. And with the crippled CTA serving the broke city, I don’t see how we can handle it. Selling off public assets (Midway, parking meters) hasn’t helped the situation either. Chicago has a rich history of coming in over budget and late. The city keeps talking about all the jobs this opportunity could create, but those jobs will go away after the games, obviously. And has anyone ever been to the shell of an old Olympic village? Quickly constructed, low cost buildings don’t age well. Chicago certainly has experience in that department.
There is such romanticism surrounding the Olympics that it is hard to look beyond the flaming torches to see the flaming tax dollars. My bottom line is this: we can’t compete financially with the other cities, and even if we could, we are too broke to go throwing a big party for everyone when we really don’t have anything to celebrate.