Quick Hit Matthew Blake Friday May 25th, 2012, 7:29pm

After NATO Summit, Murmurs Of Chicago Olympics

After months of local government, and media, focus on Chicago hosting the two-day NATO summit, it might be time for the city’s political class to focus on more parochial concerns like the reconfiguring of public housing, a highly possible teacher’s strike, and the neighborhood impact of state and city government budget cuts.

On the other hand, the city could just re-live 2009 and put a lazer-like focus on getting the Olympics.

The Chicago Tribune had a detailed report yesterday on a revenue sharing deal worked out between the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, and the U.S. Olympic Committee, including an agreement on how to share television revenue. The agreement apparently paves the way for the IOC to look favorably on a U.S. city bidding for the Olympics.

Greg Hinz of Crain’s Chicago Business considers the possibility:

So, how about it, Mr. Mayor? It's surely the time to grab the big standard and raise a couple billion bucks to bring the world here, now that we've proven we can handle the big job. Right?

There will be even plenty of time, sir. Since the 2020 games now have been awarded, you can shoot for 2024 — which is just around the corner.

How about it, Chicago? Ready for another Olympics fling?

The last Olympics fling – Chicago was one of four finalists for the 2016 summer games, and finished last in the IOC’s October 2009 vote – was the yearlong focus of then-Mayor Richard Daley. Like Emanuel with NATO only to a much greater degree, Daley touted the prominence Chicago would accrue.

“You don’t realize the importance, the global importance that Chicago will receive,” Daley said prior to the IOC’s final decision. “If you get this, it’s a major, major marketing coup for the whole marketing strategy of Chicago.”

But planning for the games was also a major headache for good government advocates: They glumly watched as the City Council signed off on providing a taxpayer-funded blank check for the Olympics.

The Olympics were also a precursor to NATO summit debates, again to a much greater degree, of how exactly Chicago stands to economically benefit from hosting international events. The city presented a rosy report of potential economic gains, and economists were – and remain – skeptical.

“The research is pretty clear that cities don’t benefit from hosting the summer Olympic games,” says Alan Sanderson, a University of Chicago economist. Sanderson notes that “most of the money floats back to IOC members who share in the largesse,” while the city must pay to construct Olympic facilities.

“They are not a lot of cities that want to do the Olympics because they are pretty disruptive,” Sanderson says. Chicago did want the games in 2009 for the international spotlight, and it bears watching if Emanuel mulls a bid as part of his broad effort to enhance the city’s global image.

Image: gamesbids.com


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