Olympic Money Games

Fights over funds

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Is the sun setting on Chicago's Olympic bid?

    Even as the Illinois House approved a $250 million guarantee in taxpayer money to back up the prospective Chicago Olympics, a step along the way that could shore up the International Olympic Committee's confidence in the city's bid, the IOC is in a financial fight with the United States Olympic Committee that could hurt Chicago's chances of landing the Games.

    "Senior IOC officials argue the USOC receives more than its fair share from global marketing contracts and U.S. broadcasting revenues and are seeking a fairer distribution of the Olympic pie," Reuters reports.

    "The IOC has called the size of the USOC share immoral, given it exceeds the combined total of all other Olympic committees and several non-American companies are now major sponsors.

    "'This is a hot potato,' another senior IOC member told Reuters on condition of anonymity. 'This can be a very difficult and prickly negotiation and who know how it might end. Will it affect Chicago's hopes? Every member votes for themselves so I could not say what they will do. Could it influence members in their decision? I would assume so'."

    The committees will meet in Denver next week to try to hammer out an agreement. But the USOC is at another disadvantage: it recently lost some of its savvy leadership.

    "Jim Scherr was CEO of the USOC for the past seven years," CBS2 reports. "A Northwestern graduate working with Evanston native and Chairman Peter Ueberroth, they'd presented a stable and respected front for an organization with a history of turmoil.

    "But within the past six months, with the crucial vote on 2016 approaching, both Ueberroth and Scherr were gone - replaced by Larry Probst, a computer games executive, and suburban Green Bay resident Stephanie Streeter, whose background is in office products. Neither has many ties to the voters who will decide Chicago's fate."

    Streeter told the Los Angeles Times that "This is not a palace coup," which is exactly the sort of statement that indicates it probably was.

    The Illinois Senate is expected to approve the House measure and Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign it, but the Chicaog 2016 folks may have bigger issues on their hands.