Chicago 2016 unveils Olympic details

February 13, 2009 4:53:51 PM PST
Bringing the Olympics to Chicago is expected to cost more than $4.5 billion. That figure was revealed Friday as each of the cities competing to host the 2016 Olympics revealed its game plan. Chicago's bid book is as notable for what's in it as what's not: no plans to overhaul mass transit, no previously unannounced building projects, and -- from Olympic leaders -- still no change in their public position that no tax dollars will be used to fund the Games.

Chicago's Olympic team opened the book on its vision for the city in 2016. Most of the transformation involves the Near South Side. Nearly a dozen buildings are proposed for the billion dollar Olympic Village. There would be a new pedestrian bridge linking 31st Street to the lakefront.

Prep work on the site may begin in July, three months before we learn whether Chicago will even get the Games.

An in-depth look at the bids:

  • Chicago 2016 Bid Book
  • Tokyo 2016 Bid Book
  • Madrid 2016 Bid Book
  • "Ultimately, the land will be sold to developers in an open and competitive process. It's my personal opinion the land could be sold today," said Patrick Ryan, Chicago 2016 chairman.

    On Northerly Island, land that was once Meigs Field would overlook sailing competitions. Where a runway once stood, rapids would be cut in for canoe and kayak events.

    Further to the north, Lincoln Park would see a tennis center rise near Addison. All these venues are temporary structures and therefore less costly than the iconic structures built for the Games in Beijing.

    "With 86 percent of construction focused on temporary venues, those costs are very manageable," said Doug Arnot, Chicago 2016 bid operations.

    "The IOC has publicly said they don't want permanent facilities built that don't have a strong economic afterlife," said Ryan.

    Chicago's plan is among the least expensive of the candidate cities. Tokyo projects it will spend $4.4 billion. Chicago has $4.8 budgeted. Madrid expects to spend $5.6 billion. Rio de Janeiro, a city in need of massive new infrastructure, budgets $14.4 billion.

    "We don't have to invest in a new airport, we don't have to invest in transit system. We just have to build on what we have. That keeps the costs controllable and the risks low," said Lori Healey, Chicago 2016 president.

    As for the cost to attend events, Chicago's bid team is touting that 51 percent of tickets will cost $50 or less. If you want to attend opening ceremonies, that's a bit more pricey: $560 for nosebleeds, nearly $1,700 to sit down front.