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Dome Sweet Dome?

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Dec 23, 2005 6:15PM

A few months back, A Chicago bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics was discussed. Chicagoist whole heartedly endorsed the idea. Da Mere also came out in favor of such a bid.

It was pointed out, however, that the newly renovated Soldier Field wasn't large enough to accomodate the opening & closing ceremonies or track & field events. So, while we already have many of the necessary venues we'd have to build an Olympic Stadium in order to host the games.

2005_12_sports_DALEY_DOME.jpgBut 80,000 person stadium ain't cheap! And it's wasteful to build one for a one-time event. Daley has the solution -- build a dome! According to the Trib, such a project would run between $600 million and $1 billion.

By building an 80,000 seat dome instead of an open stadium, Chicago would be able to host a number additional events. A dome would allow Chicago to host the NCAA Final Four. It would allow Chicago to host the Super Bowl. And, according to Daley, it would allow for another NFL team in Chicago.

Huh, what?!? "Mayor Richard Daley has privately floated the idea of trying to lure a second NFL team to Chicago, sources close to the situation told the Tribune." Is he insane? Why in the world does Chicago need another NFL team? Why in the world does Daley think the NFL would give Chicago another team?

Chicago currently has two teams in only one sport -- baseball. The White Sox have had trouble competing against the Cubs for fans for ages. That may be changing somewhat due to a World Series title on the South Side. But clearly, Chicago is still primarily a Cubs town. And that's after both teams have resided in town for well over 100 years.

In football, Chicago is undeniable a Bears town. Always will be. Chicago's allegiances in football are probably more tightly tied to the Bears than any other city to its team -- except maybe for Green Bay. We tried to the two team thing for a while when we had the Chicago Cardinals. They left for St. Louis in 1959 before continuing west to Phoenix in 1988. Has anybody missed them?

The NFL also has little interest in adding another team to Chicago. They are currently trying to persuade the New Orleans Saints to remain in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They are also trying to return NFL football to Los Angeles, who suffered the indignity of losing not one, but two, teams in 1994. Bringing another team into Chicago would also require complicated negotiations with the Bears regarding compensation for encroaching on their territory. Suffice to say, were not ever going to see another NFL team in Chicago.

So how then does Daley justify a new dome? Can such a facility be beneficial and useful without permanent tenants? Can it be justified even with one? Would building such a stadium be the only way for Chicago to play host to the 2016 Olympics?