Chicago bids for Olympics


Chicago is bidding for the Olympic Games in 2016. The city and the United States’ bid to become host of the 2016 Summer Olympics has been the hottest topic of conversation in Illinois. With the support of other cities, townships and villages in the states of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, Chicago is one of four finalists being considered by the International Olympic Committee.

Bill Scherr, board member of Chicago 2016, Director of Sport, Chicago 2016 and chairman of World Sport Chicago said Chicago is almost near the finish line with the evaluation committee visiting the city in Spring. “We sent a big representation in June in Switzerland. We’ve been lobbying those 107 IOC members in several voting competitions for the event. Our bid concludes October 2nd in a special conference in Copenhagen, Denmark with the IOC where we make a presentation together with the other three candidates – Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, Tokyo,” he said, addressing the 2nd Annual Midwest Lodging Investors Summit 2009.

Rio and Madrid compete with their beautiful cities. Tokyo competes with its sound, solid economic engine in a city that presents a very well organized bid. Madrid bid in the 2012 Games, but in the semi-finals against Paris and London, Paris won the semi-finals and London came in second. However in the finals, Madrid switched to London; later London beat Paris for the 2012 event.

If Chicago becomes the host city, it will encompass an experience for all the constituents including the athletes, the Olympic family, spectators and television viewers, let alone, the people of Chicago.

Scherr said the plan has four core ideas. First, the athletes will have to be at the center of the Games. An Olympic village, a state-of-the-art-facility will be built at the center of the city located on the lake with its own private beach. The athletes will be close to the competition so that they can have access to the sports arena.

“The Games will be set at the center of the city so that the Olympic family, spectators and the athletes can enjoy everything the city has to offer. We will surround the games with a festival and an atmosphere of friendship so that there can be great interaction between the fans and the city which happens in the Olympics,” said Scherr.

The Olympic stadium will have a “living skin” with the entire outside of the stadium broadcasting the images from inside the stadium and from around the Games. Between the stadium and the Washington and Jackson Park, there will be open interactive sites for children to try fitness sports, for people to trade pins, and kiosks for people to connect to their communities back home.

It is expected that the Games will raise $22.5B in income for Chicago; also one million visitors are expected to arrive. The budget for Olympic village generates $3.8B in revenues but costs may reach $3.3B for construction. Scherr said they expect $450M in surplus for hosting – just as Atlanta and Salt Lake City had reported net earnings after expense has been deducted for hosting the Games. The board said they expect raising money contributed by sponsors at $1.248B, broadcast $1.01B, tickets $705M, donations $246M, licensing $572M with city tax dollars at “zero.” The total funds come up to $3.781B. On the expense end, Scherr disclosed that they are purchasing $450M worth of insurance however.

“The Olympic will be a great global activity. It will have a positive economic impact for years to come past 2016,” he said.

“When people mentioned to me that the event may be held in Chicago, I thought it was just absolute madness. The city cannot afford it; the city is not united,” said Laurence Geller, chairman of Strategic Hotels & Resorts adding Chicago may have been last 7 of 12 votes in a bid for the Olympics. But between the mayor, chairman and CEO of Chicago 2016, Patrick Ryan and a few other people, it did not take long to convince Geller that the Olympics could be one of the best things that could ever happen to the Windy City.

“Like a new convert, one could be an evangelist. Our hotels fully support the Olympics. I know the ripple effect on the economy will be gigantic. Most importantly, the economic stimulus package we will have for this city and for the state is tremendous,” said Geller.