Top 8 Of '08: No. 6 - Chicago's 2016 Olympic Fever
By Marcus Gilmer in News on Dec 29, 2008 9:35PM
Between now and Wednesday, we're counting down the top 8 local stories that captivated us in 2008.
While most of the country spent their August following the exploits of Michael "Flipper" Phelps, Chicagoans were more concerned with the Olympics that are still eight years away. We started the year by being impressed at the city's 88-page application as well as the plan to keep all events within the immediate area, something that rarely happens given the breadth of the summer games. United States Olympic Committee Chairman Peter Ueberroth played Debbie Downer and said we were far from the front-runner, but the IOC loved us enough and in June chose Chicago as one of the four final candidate cities. The announcement was so huge, the city threw a party that included appearances by Mayor Daley, Rahm Emanuel, and then-candidate Barack Obama, fresh off his clinching of the Democrat's nomination.
Knowing what they had to face before the 2009 vote and announcement of the host city, Chicago 2016 jumped head first into marketing by getting now-former CSI star and city native William Peterson to do a voiceover for a commercial and solicited the public for their own commercials. Mayor Daley headed to Bejing to take in the 2008 games and study up on what a host city truly needs to do. You know, like provide a fully-functioning transit system. The movement picked up full-steam with the election of Barack Obama, who has given the bid his full support, even appearing via video for the city's presentation to the European Olympic Committee in Turkey this fall. The new momentum has put Chicago as the front-runner, no matter what Ueberroth said.
The downside? The money. In the midst of a national and local economic crisis, critics are beginning to wonder how the city will manage to pay for all the necesarry improvements and construction that are a part of the plan, including the expansive Olympic Village set to go up at the site of Michael Reese Hospital. While Mayor Daley has made the Olympics his almost singular goal for this current term, the undercurrent of those who don't want the Olympics here is starting to grow.
Photo of Rahm Emanuel by Marcus Gilmer