$6M from Olympic bid to fund sports programs

May 18, 2010 4:46:13 AM PDT
Thanks to money left over from the failed 2016 Games bid process, the Olympic hopes of many children may still be fulfilled. Six million dollars will help fund a number of sporting programs geared toward children.

Its 2010 report to the Internal Revenue Service literally closes the books on Chicago's unsuccessful effort to win the 2016 Olympic Games. All told, the losing effort had a price tag over $90 million. But the bid thoughtfully set aside some of that money to ensure its legacy.

During its 42 months of existence, Chicago 2016 raised nearly $76 million in cash and another $16 million in donated goods and services. The bid campaign reports it spent $86 million of the $92 million in total resources available.

"Until the people get a full accounting in a public forum that is not controlled by the mayor, we're never going to know how bad it was," said Tom Tresser, No Games Chicago.

Tresser, one of the leaders of the anti-bid No Games Chicago, said the numbers released Monday do not include public money to acquire land and set aside public space for the games.

"How much money was spent by the city to secure the Games, including the purchase and destruction of the Michael Reese Hospital site. Tens of millions, perhaps even $100 million there," said Tresser.

The mayor insists the entire effort was privately financed. The city was eliminated the first round last October despite a presidential appeal before the International Olympic Committee. In a statement Monday, Chicago 2016's CEO Patrick Ryan had no regrets. "We believe the bid showcased the greatness of our city and citizens to the world, and inspired tens of thousands of Chicago youth to become engaged in sport," said Ryan.

"The idea was, if we were going to ask the people of Chicago to support the Games, we were going to give something back," said Scott Meyers.

Myers heads four-year-old World Sport Chicago that will use the $6 million left over in Chicago 2016's budget to support Olympic sports programs in Chicago's park district and public schools.

"It's seed money that will enable us to really continue and hopefully expand our programs and events," said Meyer.

Myers hopes World Sport will be the enduring the legacy of Chicago 2016. The effort that once bustled on the 20th floor of the Aon building exists no more. And banners that once heralded an Olympic future from Chicago have all but disappeared from the cityscape.

Having $6 million left over in its account was in itself an accomplishment for Chicago. The bid committee for Tokyo, one of the other losing cities, is reporting a $100 million deficit.


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