Community reacts to Chicago's loss

October 2, 2009 3:26:08 PM PDT
The Olympic stadium was to be built on Chicago's South Side, and many who live in the area were counting on the games to provide a boost to that part of the city. The fields of Washington were supposed to be Olympic fields of dreams, but those dreams have been dashed by what happened in Copenhagen Friday.

Plans were laid for an Olympic stadium and an aquatic center in the park, and maybe even an Olympic village. They're all for naught now, missed opportunities for the South Side, which had such high hopes.

People came for a circus, hoping it would be punctuated with good news from Copenhagen.

But the blank looks of young and old, as word spread of Chicago's first ballot dismissal from the hosting sweepstakes, told the tale.

"This is obviously anti-American voting. Obviously. The work we put into this today deserved better than we got. It hurt. I thought we were going to get it," said Alderman Willie Cochran, 20th Ward.

Indeed more than anywhere else locally, Washington Park stood to gain with an Olympic win. The new stadium was going there, and the games were to be the catalyst for reinventing the South Side.

Nevertheless, at least one resident was willing to bid again when asked.

"Yes. Right behind us you see the talent that could very easily be the opening ceremonies," Delacy Peters said at the Universoul Circus.

But at the Kenwood Oakland community center, whose leaders struggled to get an agreement with Chicago 2016 guaranteeing minorities certain percentages of Olympic construction and service contracts, there was relief.

"We never quite got the commitment we needed to feel like ok, these things will be taken care of," said Shannon Bennett, Oakland Community Organization.

There is still a little bit of ambivalence on the South Side as to what the games might have brought. Generally, there was a feeling that an opportunity was lost. It may not have been a perfect opportunity, but it certainly would have been quite the project to work on to revitalize this part of Chicago.

No Games Chicago was planning to have a press conference in Washington Park Friday evening.

Loss can be a lesson

The loss was a lesson for some children who go to school in that neighborhood. Reavis Elementary is near Washington Park, and the students there were gearing up for a win, wearing shirts and getting visits from Olympic athletes. The older students were invited to watch the vote live.

It was a disappointment to some, but not a total loss.

"It don't matter if you win or lose, more than that you participated," said 5th grader Nicholas Holas.

"We should go for 2020. I don't think that we should just close up offices and say it was a good try. I think that when we don't get it the first time, you end up getting it the second time," said Bob Beamon, Olympic Gold Medalist.

Even though Chicago was eliminated, cheers erupted when Rio was selected to host the 2016 Games.


Load Comments