The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

City Removed Itself From World Cup Bid Citing Economy

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jan 15, 2010 5:40PM

USA's Landon Donovan scores a goal on a penalty kick in a World Cup qualifier against Honduras, played this past summer at Soldier Field; Photo by Senor Codo

It seems the only Olympic hangover in regards to the City of Chicago's part of the U.S. 2018/2022 World Cup bid was being felt by the city itself. The Chicago News Coop is reporting this morning that it wasn't so much that Chicago wasn't selected as a host city in the U.S.'s final but rather that the city demanded it be taken off the list. Earlier this week, the bid committee (we got burnt out on that phrase a long time ago) announced the 18 cities that will be included in the U.S.'s final bid for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups. Chicago was not on the list while smaller cities like Indianapolis and Kansas City were.

So why did the City back out? Because it didn't want to make financial guarantees that would have put taxpayers on the hook for around $10 million.

Chicago was on the list of 27 finalists in the United States announced in August. But Mr. Downs said Chicago Park District officials told the United States bid committee in late December they did not want Soldier Field, below, to be part of their effort.

Timothy Mitchell, the Park District general superintendent and a longtime political operative for Mayor Richard M. Daley, decided to remove Chicago from contention, said Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, spokeswoman for the Park District.

“This is a tough economy,” Ms. Maxey-Faulkner said, citing the district’s budget deficit. “We didn’t think it was appropriate at this time.”

Now, we'll be the first to admit we were...not so jazzed about the way Mayor Daley and the City Council put the taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars to host the 2016 Olympics. We said the city couldn't afford it and we realize it'd be hypocritical to say that this time, it's okay to put taxpayers on the hook. And after all, Soldier Field would probably have hosted no more than four games or so (as it did in 1994).

But what's galling here is the City's rationale. The argument that it was okay to put taxpayers on the hook for what could have gone into the billions of dollars while using the logic, "the economy will be better by 2016" is completely undermined by the City's determination that a paltry $10 million (paltry compared to the 2016 bid, anyway) is too much for an event that would take place years after the 2016 games. If the economy would be recovered enough by 2016, wouldn't it be more than recovered by 2018 or (more likely to be the year the U.S. hosts) 2022? We can swallow the "economy" argument if the City hadn't just spent years shoving the opposite reasoning down our throats for an event that would have been 100 times more unwieldy to host than a few soccer games (games which surely would have sold out and brought in good money for the city based on this city's history of supporting the sport).

It's just another example of a bitter City Hall giving someone the finger.