If Chicago loses the Olympics

So, what happens if Chicago doesn’t get the Olympics?


The agony of defeat

We all
know what will happen if Chicago is awarded the 2016 Olympics in
Copenhagen Friday. Consultants will be hired, engineering studies
performed, contracts let, people clouted into preferred jobs, earth
moved, concrete poured, insiders rewarded, profits harvested — in
other words, our own unique version of the Chicago Games and, by the
way, a bunch of muscular athletes will compete here briefly. Who knows,
it might even be as spectacular a success as Millennium Park; it might turn the spotlight on a yes-we-can Chicago.

it might reveal, under the glare of international attention, what a
corrupt city Chicago truly is. As the old saw warns: Be careful of what
you wish for.

But, what happens if Chicago loses?

This column also appeared in The Chicago Tribune
First, we’ll be treated to long stories about what this means for Mayor Richard M. Daley‘s political career and not a word of them will be worth reading because who cares? Or, who should care?

something else, more important and quite beneficial will remain: an
amazing infrastructure for cajoling, threatening, pleading and
strong-arming Chicago philanthropists, corporations and others into
giving up vast amounts of money. Whatever you may think of the Olympics
coming here and the motives for why such an impressive infrastructure
was created, you’ve got to be mighty impressed by the effectiveness of
the Chicago 2016 organizing and fundraising efforts. If Chicago doesn’t
win the Olympics, abandoning this infrastructure would waste an
important civic asset.

Keep the name — Chicago 2016 —
signaling the community’s intent to create a bright new city, without
the motivation of securing the Olympics. Prove that Chicago is the kind
of global city that Daley apparently thinks we’re not (he keeps saying
we need the Olympics to prove that we’re a world-class city).

if the same levels of skill and determination were put to use raising
bushels of cash for the things that Chicago hasn’t been able to afford.
Money for cash-strapped civic and charitable institutions. Money for
badly needed new ones. Not only would these institutions no longer have
to worry about their own revenues from charitable contributions getting
gobbled up by the Olympics, but also they would enjoy additional funds
from the New Chicago 2016 effort.

Instead of waiting around for federal and state funding, raise money to put the CTA
in shape. The idea will appall some of you, but where is it written
that private money can’t be raised to set the CTA on the right track?
Money for repairing sidewalks and repaving streets in some of the worst
neighborhoods. Money for crime prevention and safety. Money for
hospitals and schools and elder care and kid care.

Speaking of
schools and crime: The violent young male population in Chicago that is
responsible for so many of the recent killings and beatings is the
consequence of generations of boys being raised without fathers and
significant male role models. To give them what they truly need, send
every public school male to all-boys high schools staffed entirely by
men to replace the grossly failed coed schools. Get these boys into an
environment that provides a clue about how real men should behave. One
that allows those who want a quality education to get it without
interference from bullies and gangs.

The list of needs is
endless. But, if our Olympics bid fails, we’ll be told that the money
intended for the games could never be raised for other purposes because
the necessary ingredient is the shared motivation to get the games.
Donors that give to get the games could not be counted on to donate the
same amounts to, say, social programs. In that regard, some money isn’t

It would be an interesting challenge for Chicago’s
corporate and philanthropic community. Would they be willing to cough
up the same amount of time, energy and money if there are no games? We
might find out Friday.


Leave a comment
  • They apparently coughed it up for Millennium Park.

    However, comparing the situation to Millennium Park, it is unlikely that SBC, Comm Ed, Kenney Construction, Aon, etc. will want to put its name on the CPS Academy for Wayward Boys. Also, no concrete or roadbuilding jobs, or inside deals for Michael Scott, out of that.

    The more interesting question is whether the private housing would be built on the Michael Reese site without the games, or if it is so necessary, why isn't it being built now? Or for that matter, why isn't there more construction now in the cleared out Robert Taylor corridor, just a few blocks west of the Obama neighborhood Olympic Stadium? As I previously said, does the Olympic Committee expect tourists to walk there from the 51st Green Line station, or is it going to do something to develop that neighborhood?

  • Why should all public school males be punished for the actions of some?This crazy fascist idea dampens an otherwise sensible solution.

  • In reply to JamesReyes:

    Since Dennis said "all," you have a point. However, there are other sides to the issue:

    1. He is essentially suggesting the Catholic schools model of uniforms and sexual segregation. A comparison should be done of which model works better.

    2. If the boys are segregated out, one needs to do something for the girls. Getting back to what rich people can do to improve the situation in Chicago, instead of putting their energy into the getting the Olympics movement, why doesn't Oprah start a few charter schools for girls, stressing the importance of self-esteem, the ability to become a successful businesswoman, scientist, doctor, or whatever, and the importance of abstinence or birth control, instead of becoming a person who goes to Maury to find out the paternity of her five children or tell him "whatever," "you don't know me," etc.

  • In reply to JamesReyes:

    Well, since they just announced that Chicago was eliminated in the first round, I guess your contingency plan is now on the table.

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