Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Olympics... Tomorrow... or Today... I don't know how to feel

Okay, so the decision on the Olympics will be made later today (Copenhagen time)... so I figured I'd try and find some positive stories about hosting the Olympics.  But that's proving to be difficult.  Ben Joravsky's plea to not award Chicago the Games in the Reader was pretty good.  Seriously, everyone from and in Chicago is saying 'We Don't Want Them!  We know what will happen!  And it's not good!  The IOC, which is sort of a joke as it is, will only made to look a bigger joke!  Don't you realize there will be thousands of stories about corruption and graft and project behind schedule stories?'  I can now sort of understand why the Trib wants the games: they'll sell newspapers reporting on all the corruption and inside deals that come out of Chicago getting the games.

And it comes down to this: everyone realizes that the Olympics put cities behind the eight ball financially.  They usually don't make money.  Sydney and Barcelona are the exceptions to the rule.  The successful Olympics, now, have served as coming out parties for either cities or countries.  Barcelona worked because it was pretty much given second citizen status during Franco's regime, so people were not as aware of the city.  Beijing worked because it was China's coming out party.  But what about Calgary or Turin or Athens or Atlanta? Those are all modern Olympics and I'm not sure anyone is saying, man, I can't wait to go to Calgary!  Or Lillehammer!  Or Atlanta!  Because they had the Olympics!

I know you can make that argument for Chicago -- that even in the US it isn't that well known of a city because it's in the Midwest and L.A. and Vegas and New York and D.C. get all the press and international guests.  But that's selling Chicago short.  It's a huge huge huge financial center (second most important in the US and one of the most important in the world). It's still huge (easily the 3rd largest city in the US).  And it has tradition and arts and culture and all that you'd ever want in a city.  It's a city that most American cities would kill to be.  Outside of San Fran or L.A. or New York and maybe Seattle and Boston, Chicago has more to offer than your home town. Chicago's case is not like Barcelona's story.  And Atlanta... we don't even think of Atlanta here.

Chicago already is a world class city.  We don't need the Olympics to prove that or to become that.  I remember when I was living in England that there was this promotion at McDonald's or something that the winner when on an all expenses trip to... Chicago.  Why?  Because house music originated here.  Apparently Europeans come to Chicago to listen to house music.  Think about that.

Look, I'm not saying it wouldn't be fun to have them.  I'm not saying it would not be exciting. Getting the games would do wonders for public transit in Chicago, we might even catch up to New York and by pass DC's public transportation systems.  And I'd probably even end up making money off of the games... but I don't want the game for three reasons:

1) Corruption.  Chicago does corruption as well as New Jersey and New Orleans—maybe better.  Giving the games to us is pretty much saying, 'here people connected to Daley, here are billions of dollars for you to put in a Swiss bank account.'  Meanwhile, the average, every day tax payer is screwed.

2) Money.  The city can't afford the games right now and the Feds aren't going to bail us out because the Feds just spend about $5 trillion dollars bailing out Wall Street and another $.8 billion on a stimulus (not really exaggerating there).  Yes, in a weird way, the US government has infinity dollars but it's not going to start dropping billions on Chicago just because.  Chicago has major issues: education, crime, transportation, funding pensions, housing... and the Olympics will probably only fix one of those issues (transportation) and maybe another (housing).  Now is not the time to take on an event like the Olympics.  Three years ago?  Maybe.  Now?  No.

3) Daley's face.  I want to see the look on his face if we don't get the games.  This is a man who has gotten what he wanted for the last 20 years.  No one says no to him, and if they do, he destroys them. But the IOC can say no.  And no I hope they say just to see how he reacts.

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