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Chicago Olympics Gets More Backing Cash

By Kevin Robinson in News on Apr 6, 2009 2:20PM

2009_04_06_olympics.jpg Late Friday afternoon Governor Pat Quinn signed into law a bill that guarantees the state will back the 2016 Olympics - up to $250 million - if Chicago loses substantial operating cash and uses up its other guarantees for the games. That's in addition to the $500 million the city has already guaranteed.

Meanwhile, documents reviewed by the Sun-Times show that the Chicago 2016 organizing committee has spent over $400,000 on lobbying to win the support of public officials in Washington for the city's bid. That money, which was privately financed, was spent securing letters of support and resolutions supporting Chicago's bid for the Olympics. The Sun-Times has also revealed that the U.S. Olympic Committee spent a similar sum working to ensure a smooth visa process for athletes, coaches and other officials associated with the games.

Mayor Daley contends that the Olympics will be good for the city, saying "this is not about the people now. This is about 2016 -- all the infrastructure, all the improvements you can do, spent by the federal government. It's amazing how much money they spend. Up-to-date security as well as public transportation and other things. This is an opportunity. That's why I'm excited about it. The legacy that will last you forever -- the things we're gonna do for the children of Chicago [and] another generation." Critics contend that the Olympics divert already scarce resources from transit, education and public health, and that infrastructure improvements will be negligible, at best. The city's bid calls for a system of shuttles, rather than the use of existing or improved CTA facilities, as part of the 2016 transit plan.