SBJ/20090921/This Week's News

Companies gear up should Chicago win Olympic bid

The International Olympic Committee won’t name the host city for the 2016 Olympics until Oct. 2, but at least two Midwest companies are making sponsorship preparations should Chicago win.

Global equipment manufacturer Caterpillar and local energy company Exelon have both put out requests for proposals to find advisers who can evaluate the value of an Olympic sponsorship if Chicago wins the 2016 Games, sources said. Neither of the companies has a history of being involved in the Olympics, but both want to understand how those sponsorships work should an opportunity become available in Chicago.

Those deals would be negotiated with a Chicago organizing committee and run from the date of signing through the 2016 Games.

The requests for proposals illustrate the potential corporate interest a Chicago Olympics could generate in the Midwest. Bid organizers often have pointed to the depth and variety of Chicago’s corporate community as one of the bid’s strengths and noted that 32 of the world’s Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the state.

A Chicago 2016 spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Caterpillar is one of the state’s Fortune 500 companies. The equipment manufacturer has limited its sports sponsorship in the past to NASCAR and the Nashville Predators, and a partnership with an Olympic organizing committee would represent a significant evolution in its sports marketing strategy. The company met with a number of agencies regarding Chicago 2016, including IMG and IEG, sources said.

IMG and IEG declined to comment.

A Caterpillar spokesman said, “Given the size and business footprint of Caterpillar we are evaluating a wide range of business opportunities at any given time. Our normal practice is to only comment or make an announcement once we have made a final determination for a given business opportunity.”

Exelon is one of the largest utility companies in the U.S. with approximately $19 billion in revenue. It provides electricity to 5.4 million customers in Illinois and Pennsylvania. The company was among four key partners that sponsored an environmental summit that Chicago 2016 hosted earlier this month. Exelon’s subsidiary, ComEd, has sponsorship ties to the Chicago Bears, Bulls, White Sox and Fire.

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