$900 million to bring Olympics to town

January 15, 2008 4:03:10 PM PST
Chicago 2016 organizers said new and temporary venues needed to host the 2016 Summer Games will cost an estimated $900 million, a price tag that could grow. The Olympic plans of Chicago and the six other bid contenders are now in the hands of the International Olympic Committee. They detail everything from building and bidding costs to what it will cost spectators to attend the games.

When cost comes up, Chicago's bid team talks about private donations, sponsor revenue and TV rights to pay for projects. According to Chicago 2016, tax dollars would be the last resort.

Even with a $900 million projection, some of the competition is planning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more.

On Tuesday, Chicago released a blueprint for hosting the Games. There were no major surprises inside, but many reminders of how the city would be transformed.

"The heart of our city will truly become an Olympic celebration center," said Patrick Ryan, Chicago 2016 chairman.

  • In Lincoln Park: a canoe-kayak slalom course would cost $41 million
  • Monroe Harbor: a rowing venue would cost $80 million
  • Douglas Park: a permanent aquatics center would cost $107 million
  • Washington Park: a temporary stadium at $385 million

A private developer is expected to bare the $1.1 billion cost of the Olympic Village south of McCormick Place.

"While these are big numbers, I want to again emphasize our plan is responsible and we believe realistic. I also want to caution these numbers are in '07 dollars," said Ryan. That means, the numbers could go up.

Meanwhile, the competition:

  • In Rio de Janeiro, sun and scenery are in the sales pitch, along with $2.5 billion worth of improvements to mass transit.
  • In oil-rich Doha, Qater, $8 billion would be spent to improve rails and roads.
  • Tokyo wants to build a water-front stadium and new housing. It's compact city-center plan is the most similar to Chicago's.
  • "Compact is one thing. It's where it's compact. We've taken the very heart of the city and put so much of the games right there," said Doug Arnot, Chicago 2016 operations director.

    If the games come to Chicago, ticket prices are expected to be about $75. Plus, 500,000 will be given away to school kids.

    "The people of Chicago will experience these Games like no people of any Olympic city before them," said Arnot.

    What does it cost to compete for the games? So far, $49 million, all of which, according to Chicago 2016, has been paid for through private donations.