London may help Chicago's Olympic bid

May 27, 2008 3:08:25 PM PDT
It would be the ultimate in recycling: London's Olympic planners are pushing Chicago to use parts of its main stadium for the 2012 Games to build an Olympic stadium on the city's South Side. Of course, Chicago would have to win the right to host the 2016 Olympics.

London has blown its budget big time and would love for Chicago to buy off parts of its marquee Olympic stadium. Chicago's bid team, though, is saying recycling a stadium is an interesting concept, but not if going green would cause the budget to bleed red.

This month, in London, crews began digging a big hole that will one day hold the city's Olympic stadium. But it is the hole in the budget that has many Brits talking. Now, London's Olympic team is suggesting 55,000 seats, tons of steels and other elements of their stadium could be reused if Chicago gets the games.

"They were really the ones who launched the idea of the repurposable stadium," said Doug Arnot, Chicago 2016 VP of operations.

"Repurposable" is a fancy way of saying reusable. At the groundbreaking last week, Britain's prime minister conceded no one wants a white elephant.

"I believe we're going to have a legacy here, not just for the Olympic movement but a legacy for our whole country," said Gordon Brown, British prime minister.

Both the London and Chicago Olympic stadium plans are for largely temporary stadiums. During the Games, each facility would contain 80,000 seats. After the Games are gone, what's left of London's stadium would be 25,000 seats. Chicago's legacy plan calls for a much smaller amphitheater. For that reason, and many more, Chicago's vice president of bid operations is skeptical the two stadium designs would feature many compatible pieces.

"I don't think we're talking about something that's kind of a pre-designed tinker-toy set that goes from one city to another," said Arnot.

The cost of moving sections of the stadium -- or its seating bowls -- across the pond may also be restrictive. Joe Dolinar is on the design team that created the new Soldier Field and the plans for Chicago's proposed Olympic stadium.

"You do have to look at what it costs, is it feasible? Is it realistic? And in the end what is appropriate for Chicago?" said Joe Dolinar, Goettsch Partners stadium designer.

No one is ruling anything out. There is always the possibility of passing on technology or a Jumbotron from one stadium to the next. First, Chicago must win the right to host the Games.

Mayor Daley will travel to Greece next week where the International Olympic Committee will shorten the list of 2016 candidate cities.


Load Comments