Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Chicago 2024?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The U.S. Olympic Committee has announced it won’t be submitting a bid for the 2020 Olympics, because of a dispute over revenue-sharing with the IOC. That means we’ll be spared a repeat of Chicago 2009: stunned citizens weeping in Daley Plaza as they learn we’ve lost the Olympics to a Third World country.

    Jim Caple, writing on ESPN.com, says Chicagoans should be relieved to be out of the running:

    Hosting the Olympics is too costly and too much grief. Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Games cost an estimated $48 million, which I'm pretty sure doesn’t include the unofficial bribes to the proper International Olympic Committee officials. The estimated cost of actually hosting the Olympics was pegged at $5 billion…Anyway, Chicago spent all that money and even sent the leader of the free world (Oprah Winfrey), President Barack Obama, to plead its case to the IOC, and still finished a distant third to Rio de Janeiro.
    Meanwhile, the London Games were originally budgeted at 2.4 billion pounds, but the estimate is now well over 7 billion pounds (or $10.5 billion).

    This is unfair. How can he mention bribery and Chicago in the same sentence without mentioning the kickbacks contractors will be offering local officials to build overpriced velodromes, swimming pools and dormitories? Also, we finished fourth to Rio, not third.

    Meanwhile, at the Tribune, architecture critic Blair Kamin looks ahead to 2024, when Chicago will be an even more Olympic-friendly city than it is today:

    •South Works, the former U.S. steel plant on the far southeast lakefront, may have a shopping center, apartments and houses on it. The big recent music fest, headlined by the Dave Matthews Band Caravan, certainly sparked interest in the site.
    •Northerly Island might finally be transformed into a park. (Or maybe a new mayor, probably not a Daley, will turn it back into an airport.)
    •The Willis Tower might be a leading example of energy-saving skyscraper renovation, and Chicago will have even more green roofs than it does today.
    •The Bloomingdale Trail might be built, putting a people-friendly linear park on an old railroad embankment that slices through the Northwest Side.
    •Proposed high-speed rail service that could zip Olympic visitors to Chicago from St. Louis and Rockford at 220 mph might be complete. But don't count on that unless President Barack Obama wins re-election.

    If Chicago ever does get the Olympics, I think our mascot should Alphonse the Rat, a 5-foot, 5-inch rodent in a chalk stripe suit and a fedora. During the opening ceremony, Alphonse can pretend to mow down dozens of dancers with a toy Tommy gun. Am I on the Chicago 2024 committee now?  

    Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!