By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jul 15, 2005 5:42PM
Some of you may know that way back in 1904, Chicago was supposed to host the Olympics... until St. Louis stole the games away! So Chicago has yet to host the Olympics.
While there was a lot of recent coverage over New York's bid for the 2012 games that ultimately were awarded to London, maybe Chicago should throw its hat into the bidding for 2016. The USOC tends to back one U.S. city and Chicago seems like an ideal candidate to host the games according to Sports Illustrated's Maggie Haskins.
She actually does have a point... Chicago is a beautiful, multi-ethnic city that would likely embrace the Olympics rather than dread the congestion it'd bring like many New Yorkers did. Already the hub of summer in Chicago, the Grant Park/Millennium Park area would be the perfect gathering place during the festivities. Visitors would have the opportunity to enjoy the skyline, the lake and a world class park with space for the usual concerts, etc. that go on during the games.
In terms of athletic infrastructure, we already have pretty much everything needed. The new Soldier Field could be used for the opening and closing ceremonies and track & field. The United Center would be available for basketball. There's the UIC Pavilion and AllState Arena, the new soccer stadium in Bridgeview, the Lake Michigan for sailing, McCormick Place or the facilities at the universities for the smaller sports, etc. Maybe build a beach volleyball stadium on Northerly Island? It's just too bad they are removing baseball from the Olympics for 2012 -- what would be better than Olympic baseball at Wrigley?
As Haskins' column mentioned, our mass transit is also robust enough to handle the crowds while also offering visitors a better feel for the city than an underground train system might. And there's the land on the near South Side where the Robert Taylor Homes once stood. Build an Olympic village that can then be used for public housing.
Of course, financials are one of the key issues to hosting the Olympics. But with so much of the infrastructure in place, the jobs and revenue the games would create, the upgrades to mass transit, etc. Chicagoist thinks that Chicago could see huge benfits. We lived in Atlanta around the 1996 Olympics and we saw how it impacted the city. But we think it could impact Chicago even more. And maybe finally dispell those Al Capone question. That was the 1920's, world!