I know that loyal Green Room followers (we're up to 16 now!) are eagerly waiting for this blog to weigh in on Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics. No time like the present, because the announcement comes in a little over a day.
At first, I was completely gung-ho in favor of Chicago's bid to host the Olympics. I mean, how great would it be to have The Olympics HERE, in our own backyard? Think of the glory! Think of the excitement! Think of the infrastructure improvements and business opportunities!
Then I started reading more about the bid, from both opponents and supporters. Now I'm all confused and undecided.
This recent opinion piece in the Tribune from Edward Snyder, Dean of the University of Chicago School of Business, superficially suggests that the Games will "result in lasting value for generations to come." Setting aside the barren cliches and repetitive phraseology (the more degrees a person has, the more his writing suffers!), Snyder asks one relevant question--will investing in the Olympics "create lasting value" for the city?--but does not supply adequate proofs for his affirmative answer.
Chicago2016.org persuasively argues that Chicago is a great place for the Olympics in terms of venues, convenience, beauty, and accessibility. But the real question is, will hosting the Olympics hurt Chicago financially in the long run, or help it--and there is substantial disagreement on this point. The 2016 Committee, of course, asserts that the proposed operating budget is realistically in the black.
The Civic Federation's analysis found that the Chicago 2016 proposed operating budget "provides adequate protection for taxpayers" at the same time that it recommends strategies for managing the real financial risks. The International Olympic Committee called Chicago's financial plan "ambitious but believable" with "an extensive sponsorship program."
Our city council voted unanimously earlier this month in favor of a "full governmental financial guarantee" for the city's $4.8 billion bid. I don't know whether the alder-creatures' full support makes me feel more secure about the financial risks of the bid, or more nervous. After all, these are the people who put the parking meter fiasco in motion.
On the opposite side of the bid, we have Chicagoans for Rio 2016, a satirical look at some real reasons to take a pause about backing the bid. CfR2016 even offers an online store selling shirts, bags, mugs and magnets emblazoned with the Chicagoans for Rio logo, featuring a runner dropping the Olympic torch. We love satire here at the Green Room.
Plus, my Edison friend Matt Farmer has been a one-man media blitz, posting his opposition more than once on Huffington Post and even tunefully opposing the bid with a YouTube satirical melody.
No Games Chicago attempts to make the case that we face an either/or choice between creating better hospitals, housing, schools and trains versus hosting the Olympics. I really don't get this argument. Are the nabobs saying that if we don't get the Olympics, the city will spend more on those items? Are they saying that if we get the Olympics, they will suck money away from schools and housing?
Some think that the Olympics will have the opposite effect: The Chicago Tribune recently suggested that "the games represent what could be [Mayor Daley's] best chance of overcoming the financial troubles that have made his job increasingly difficult." As in Snyder's piece quoted earlier, however, the reporter doesn't back it up.
As I said, I'm conflicted. I really, really want to be on board, to welcome the world to Chicago in 2016. I just don't know.
How's that for fence-sitting? And what do you think?
UPDATE: I'm sure you've heard by now that Chicago lost in the first round of IOC voting. I felt like I got kicked in the gut. My heart wanted the Olympics here, even though my head said it would probably end badly for Chicago taxpayers and (many) residents.
Now I'm just pissed off at the people who are using this as yet another opportunity for Obama-bashing. But I guess that's a blopic for another day.