Chicago 2016's new Olympic plan

Will the governor's scandal hurt the city's chances?
CHICAGO Even though Governor Rod Blagojevich never played a significant role in the bid, negative news is always bad news in a competition that's the equivalent of a municipal pageant.

"The Governor has not been involved in our bid to speak of at all," said Patrick Ryan, Chicago 2016 chairman.

Over the last two and a half years, Rod Blagojevich hasn't been asked to travel to promote the bid, and he's barely mentioned in Chicago 2016 literature. The governor was supposed to help secure a state financial guarantee for the Games, but it never happened and may not before the city's plan is due to the IOC in February.

"I don't know, I can't forecast, nobody in this room can forecast what process down there will with all the concerns now arisen over what's happened," Ryan said.

Chicago's bid team Friday revealed several significant tweaks to its venue plan.

The South Side will now play a much more prominent role. Washington Park would be home to the Olympic Stadium, along with track and field events, plus aquatics competitions.

In Beijing, they built an architectural gem dubbed the Water Cube for swimming and diving. Chicago's plan is much less dramatic: a temporary structure for competition with a smaller permanent swimming facility that stays long after the Games.

"In years Games past there was so much effort in building the competition pool that afterward they had to try to figure out what you were going to do with 20,000 seats -- no one had a use so we'll shrink the facility down," said Doug Arnot, Chicago 2016 sports and operations director.

On the West Side, Douglas Park is slated for BMX racing and cycling. After the Games a large sports facility complete with a pool and water park would be the legacy.

At the old Meigs Field, whitewater rafting, a slalom course and kayaking events would play out, with some of those facilities left behind for public use after the Olympics.

It was learned Friday the total projected price tag for the games is $4.7 billion. After you factor in inflation that's a 5 percent increase over original estimates.

Also from the Olympic notebook, next week the City Council will vote on buying the Michael Reese Hospital site for the Olympic Village.

And, in case you were wondering, Chicago's Olympic bid now has 52 full-time employees. There are 100 people working on it if you count the folks on loan from law, accounting and consulting firms.


The original plan called for Washington Park to play host to a temporary Olympic Stadium that would also be used for track and field events. Now the historic park near the University of Chicago campus will also be the home of aquatic sports originally slated for Douglas Park on the west side. Jackson Park and the Midway Plaisance will be used as a so-called "live site" where non-ticket holders can take part in Olympic celebrations.


While the west side park is losing the proposed aquatics facility it would gain a velodrome for BMX racing and other cycling events. After the Games, the facility would be converted to a mixed-use sports and entertainment center. An Olympic size pool from Washington Park would be relocated to Douglas Park for community use after the 2016 Games.


The former Meigs Field site would play host to volleyball canoe and kayak events, some of which were originally scheduled for Lincoln Park. Chicago's Olympic bid team says the venues would be converted for post-Games use into permanent canoe, kayak and volleyball facilities. The southern half of the island would also host a wetlands preserve.

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