Chicago 2016 seeks community support

July 21, 2009 2:58:41 PM PDT
Chicago's Olympic bid committee is spending this month trying to shore up community support for its plan to bring the 2016 games to Chicago. They've attended nearly a dozen neighborhood meetings in recent weeks where questions about jobs, displacement and cost are common. Chicago's bid team comes prepared for an earful.

From the North Side's Lakeview neighborhood to the South Side's South Shore community, residents are voicing their concerns.

Chicago 2016 answers by saying the Games would be held in the parks, so not a single home would be destroyed. They can't promise gentrification won't price some people out of a neighborhood.

The Olympic Village, they say, will include affordable housing and demolition of Michael Reese hospital will soon start to create the first Olympic-related jobs.

"I'm very pleased to say we've had 92% minority and female participation on those," said Lori Healey, Chicago 2016 president.

What Chicago's Olympic bid team encounters almost everywhere is a general mistrust of promises made by people perceived to be City Hall insiders.

"The mayor initially said we were not going to be responsible. Then he's gone off and committed us to being responsible if something happens. I just can't support the bid," said Lun Ye Marsh.

Bid Chairman Pat Ryan - a philanthropist who built a global insurance company from scratch - tells audiences that he would never participate in any project that he thought might burden residents or hurt the city.

"Look at what we're doing. If you're upset with anything else that's going on with the city, that has nothing to do with the Olympics," said Pat Ryan, Chicago 2016 chairman.

For more information on upcoming community events, please visit Chicago 2016's Web site: www.chicago2016.org/our-plan/community-engagement/community-meetings-calendar.aspx

Chicago Olympic bid gets high-profile exposure

Chicago Olympic organizers have worked to raise the city's profile and now its bid for the 2016 Summer Games is getting some more high-profile exposure.

The popular Lollapalooza music fest in Grant Park is naming one of its stages the "Chicago 2016 Stage" to show its support for the bid.

The three-day music festival that starts Aug. 7 attracts thousands of people to the city's lakefront. Grant Park also would be the site of some events during the Olympics.

Olympic organizers said last year they were at Lollapalooza giving out information about the games and recruiting volunteers for events to promote the city's bid.

The International Olympic Committee will decide in October on a 2016 host city.

Chicago is a finalist along with Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Load Comments