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Marketplace Scratch Pad

Chi-town bummed? You?

Scott Jagow Oct 2, 2009

Is it really a surprise that Chicago didn’t win the bid for the 2016 Olympics? Yes, according to the odds-makers. And this photograph says it was shocking to some people of Chicago. But there’s also quite a bit of relief that the city lost.

From CNN:

Brian Fadden, a manager at Chicago’s Buddy Guy’s Legends blues club, said winning the Olympic Games would “have been good and bad. Some things would have been taken care of quicker than they would (otherwise) have as far as infrastructure and whatnot, but … I don’t think they needed it. It would just cause more problems.”

The Olympics would have lasted 17 days, he noted, but “who knows what we would have had to deal with after that. I mean, taxpayers are probably going to end up paying for this.”

David Hoffmann, the head of Arts and Artisans gallery on Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue, argued that anti-American sentiment fueled by the global recession and conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan may have worked against the city’s bid.

“I’m delighted,” he said. “For one month of good sales in our business, we would have had every landlord in town try to really do us a number on our next lease negotiations.”

Or how about this piece from the Washington Post?

The bid for a Chicago Olympics was to put a large American city, and probably the state and federal governments as well, deeply into hock constructing velodromes and the like, in return for the thrill of watching a bunch of steroid consumers try to break ephemeral world records in obscure sports.

Geesh. Although, unfortunately there’s some truth to it, both financially and otherwise. But I don’t want to jump on the downer train and say the Olympics are worthless. I have fond memories of the Lake Placid games, the LA games. I worked at the Atlanta Olympics for NBC, and aside from almost getting blown up by a pipe bomb, it was thrilling to be a part of a world event like that.

The Olympics still have their place. Professional athletes, steroids, the IOC’s behavior, too much corporate involvement and other things have ruined the games in some ways. They’re most likely a bad financial investment too. But there’s still something compelling about the world getting together to compete, and it seems a lot more fun when it’s in your own backyard.

What’s your take? Do you want your country, your city to host the Olympics? Or is it a tainted affair not worth the hassle and expense?

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