Report Says Chicago's Olympic Revenue Predictions Mostly Hype

Benefits exaggerated, risks downplayed

By Steve Rhodes
|  Friday, Sep 25, 2009  |  Updated 1:20 PM CDT
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26 Olympians to Pitch Chicago Bid in Copenhagen

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These guys may have fudged the numbers just a bit.

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And the gold medal for misleading citizens about the benefits of hosting the Olympics goes to . . . Chicago.

The evidence continues to pile up - albeit far too late - that City Hall and its ancillary Chicago 2016 operation have run a carefully constructed propaganda campaign to shield taxpayers from the ugly truth: hosting the Olympics stinks.

The latest evidence comes from a study expected to be released Thursday showing that the economic boost Chicago would get from the Games would be about one-fourth of what the city promised. And given reams of economic data already sitting on the shelf from past Games, that's a best-case scenario.

"We took a realistic look at where the money is coming from and where it's going to be directed," Scott Watkins, a director at the Anderson Economic Group which produced the study, told Crain's.

As opposed to the juiced up numbers the city is touting that bear little resemblance to reality.

Crain's previously reported on "Daley's Olympian Stretch" about the economic benefits of hosting the Games.

"That's crazy," Victor Matheson, Holy Cross economics professor specializing in the economic impact of the Olympics, told Crain's for that story after hearing the figures the mayor and his cronies were bandying about to gain public support for the bid.

And yet another economic study has found that "the Games do more harm than good for local tourism," according to the Chicago Reader.

In fact, the research is exceedingly clear: the Olympics are a sucker's bet.

Of course, it's beyond too late to turn back now.

But the facts have been available all along; we can only wonder why they are just coming out now.

For complete coverage of the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid, click here.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, an award-winning Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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