Olympic Crisis Averted!

Vote goes our way. Really.

By Steve Rhodes
|  Wednesday, Aug 11, 2010  |  Updated 3:03 PM CDT
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Obama: "Chicago Most American of American Cities"

AP

Be happy. Vote went our way. Really.

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Obama: "Chicago Most American of American Cities"

President Barack Obama told the IOC Friday his adopted home town of Chicago should win the 2016 Olympic bid.
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Be thankful, Chicagoans.

Sometimes you win by losing.

This is one of those times.

The Olympics are fool's gold. A sucker's bet.

And you were the sucker.

There will be recriminations. The mayor's approval ratings are already lower than at any other time in his 20-year reign. And the criminal defense bar can't be happy. There would have been indictments. Somebody would have gone to jail if the Olympics had come here.

Not that the graft won't continue; it just won't be as glitzy.

But the truth is, we're better off.

"In spite of all the propaganda and everything - I don't want to call anybody a liar - but no one's ever made any money out of them," Rupert Murdoch once said.

Reams of economic studies back him up.

"It's fair to say that the bulk of the serious studies on the costs and benefits of the Olympics suggest that, in terms of direct benefits, they are unambiguous money losers," Mark Spiegel, the vice president for economic research at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, said recently.

"There has never been an Olympic Games that has made a profit," Robert Barney, director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario told NPR this week.

"No reasonable person thinks that the direct benefits of hosting the Olympic Games or any other mega event cover the costs," says Andrew Rose, an economist at the Haas School of Business at the University of California in Berkeley.

Those facts got lost in the hype. The mighty Daley PR machine - and a compliant media - got taken. But the IOC picked another sucker instead.

So what to do now?

Dennis Byrne suggested this week that the mayor ought to keep Chicago 2016 intact and redirect it to creating "a bright new city" even without the Olympics.

But the truth is, you'd have to start from scratch. The Chicago 2016 plan isn't even close to a piece of visionary urban planning. Maybe that was part of the problem.

But at least now the city can focus on what's really important: Bread, not circuses.

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

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