SBD/Issue 138/Olympics

Chicago 2016 Officials Lead IOC On Tour Of Proposed Olympic Sites

 
Chicago 2016 officials yesterday led members of the IOC Evaluation Commission on a tour of proposed sites in the city's bid for the '16 Olympics, and USOC Chief Communications Officer Darryl Seibel and Chicago 2016 Communications Dir Patrick Sandusky said that "hitting the road drives home the bid team's message of how compact the sporting sites and athlete living quarters are," according to Lisa Donovan of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Chicago 2016 officials indicated that 90% of the venues and housing facilities are "within a 15-minute drive." The tour included a stop at Washington Park, "where 200-plus flag-waving boosters stood in a ring meant to outline the proposed 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium." The next stop was at Monroe Harbor, a "possible home to Olympic rowing and swimming competitions," where sailboats had masts "emblazoned with the Chicago 2016 bid team's logo." And "everywhere there were Olympic luminaries," including former Olympians Greg Louganis, Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner. Donovan notes it is "unclear what impression the dozen sites made on the visitors," as commission members "aren't talking with journalists" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/6). AROUND THE RINGS' Ed Hula reported the tour went on despite a "mostly cold, blustery Sunday, punctuated by bouts of spitting rain." The tour began at 8:00am CT and ended around 6:30pm (AROUNDTHERINGS.com, 4/5). In Colorado Springs, Brian Gomez notes the IOC Evaluation Commission will "issue a technical report for the 107-person IOC in September after touring Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo within the next month" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 4/6).

FEW PROTESTERS: In Chicago, Hersh & Heinzmann note "hundreds of volunteers ... and just a handful of protesters weathered long waits to greet the commission's members as they spent nearly eight hours touring planned Olympic sports venues, media center and the Olympic Village site in the city." Chicago Mayor Richard Daley "rode with commission members on their first stop of the tour Sunday and later rejoined them for lunch at the Shedd Aquarium" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/6). USA TODAY's Vicky Michaelis writes Chicago 2016 officials "undoubtedly repeated words, such as 'temporary,' that until recent years were foreign to the Olympic lingo." Chicago 2016 Dir of Venues & Games Operations Doug Arnot: "So much of our plan is really designed for these times." Michaelis notes only 24% of "all planned Olympic construction in Chicago would be permanent" (USA TODAY, 4/6).

Ryan Must Convince IOC Committee To
Choose Chicago Despite Lacking Guarantee
FINANCIAL FACTOR: CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS' John Pletz writes Daley and Chicago 2016 Chair Pat Ryan will be "performing a high-wire act" in trying to convince the commission that Chicago's "unorthodox combination of limited city and state financial guarantees -- plus an undefined insurance policy -- will be as good as the unconditional government commitments being offered by Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo." While IOC President Jacques Rogge recently said that the IOC "wouldn't insist on the blanket guarantee it has required in the past, the insurance plan is untested in Olympic circles." And it will be "much harder to do a deal now that insurers have been hammered by the financial crisis than when the idea was first proposed two years ago." Either way, Daley "could find himself pressured to make the guarantee he has vowed not to." Ryan said that he has "several companies lined up, but he declines to name them, saying it could cause a conflict when the policy is put out for bid." A Chicago 2016 spokesperson said, "We've talked with several companies willing to provide this type of insurance. We'd take it to market at the appropriate time" (CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS, 4/6 issue).

GETTING POLITICAL: The AP's Frederic Frommer reported Chicago 2016 has spent $420,000 on "pressing its case in Washington since the second half" of '07. Dutko Worldwide LLC lobbies on behalf of Chicago 2016 (AP, 4/4). The CHICAGO SUN-TIMES' Donovan noted President Obama in a video shown to the IOC Evaluation Commission Saturday described Chicago as an "international city that he and his wife and children call home." Obama described a city that "grew up under architect Daniel Burnham's refrain 'make no small plans, they have no magic to stir the soul,' and called the city a great American melting pot." Obama: "After your visit, once you discover the Chicago that I know ... I am confident you will discover that you're already in the perfect host city for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games." Donovan noted reporters "watched the video in a screening separate from the meeting between Chicago 2016 officials, Mayor Daley and the IOC evaluation team" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/5). Donovan wrote the video from Obama was the "most striking evidence yet that the city's bid team would use its biggest and best ammunition as early as possible during the four-day evaluation" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/5). But Tribune Co. Olympic reporter Philip Hersh noted Obama's address "contained four mentions of 'Stir the Soul,' a phrase that Chicago bid officials said they dropped because it didn't translate well." Chicago 2016 replaced "Stir the Soul" with "Let Friendship Shine," and Hersh noted Obama "didn't use the words 'let' or 'friendship' or 'shine' even once" (LATIMES.com, 4/4). View a transcript of Obama's message (SUNTIMES.com, 4/4).

IS IT WORTH IT? In Chicago, Steve Chapman wrote, "If you like vanity projects, you'd be hard-pressed to find a bigger or better one than the Olympics -- a two-week extravaganza featuring thousands of athletes and hundreds of thousands of spectators, plus a worldwide TV audience. But what does Chicago really stand to gain from it? ... It's hard to believe all the publicity has a long-term payoff." The Olympics "may prove that a big plan is not the same as a good plan" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/5).

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