Chicago 2016 woos press corps
It's show and tell time on Saturday for Mayor Daley and the team trying to bring the Olympics to Chicago.
Buckingham Fountain was even turned on earlier than usual to try to impress the international delegation touring the city.
But on Friday night, the mayor is lobbying another influential part of the Olympic movement.
Mayor Daley is doing what he loves best on Friday night: promoting his city.
The audience: 200 reporters, many from overseas, who cover the Olympic movement.
"Really it's an opportunity to showcase a city that maybe they've been to New York or LA but never been in the middle of the country so this is important for us," said Daley.
From the 94th floor of the Hancock Building, the city sparkles below.
The journalists are there to see whether Chicago slips-up or shines during the Olympic Commitee's Evaluation visit. But some suggest nothing is make or break.
"The report four years ago placed Paris far ahead of other cities and of course London ended up winning so how much notice members take is debatable," said Duncan Mackay, insidethegames.com.
One factor looming large during the IOC visit is a recent, and sudden change at the top of the US Olympic Committee.
The new boss is a Wisconsin resident who's working as hard as Chicago this week to prove herself to IOC members.
"They didn't see it as a problem. I don't think it's a problem for Chicago's bid," said Stephanie Streeter, US Olympic Committee CEO.
"We've got sports all along the lakefront and parks. Here's Soldier Field," said Patrick Ryan, Chicago 2016 CEO, on Friday night.
Ryan uses a touchscreen map to highlight the compactness of Chicago's city-center plan. While he and his team rehearse, IOC members are sampling restaurants and night life on their own on Friday night.
"I think the feeling they get for the city and the people is very important," said Ryan.
The rules say bid cities can only wine and dine IOC members on one night of their visit. So the party that really matters happens Monday night at the Art Institute. Mayor Daley is bringing Oprah to that one
Foreign press comes to town
On Friday night, there was a reception for media members from around the world who are in town to cover the visit.
Olympic bids are won by fighting the battle on several fronts.
The generals are the IOC members who watch from the hills and evaluate tactics. They won't be at the reception to watch the propaganda war being waged.
Mayor Daley will be joined by a small army of Olympians in a perch overlooking the city.
Friday night's party is meant to woo the road warriors who write about the Olympic movement.
"Something we're proud of 65 plus languages spoken by our volunteers and that's what Chicago really is about. It's a city built by immigrants," said Ryan.
Ryan rehearses the points he'll punch during talks with members of the Olympic evaluation commission. Chicago as an 'international city' is a major theme.
"It can go anyway on the day of the vote," said Shinsuke Kobayashi, Kyodo News Service.
Kobayashi covers the Olympics for a Japanese news service. He's in town sizing up the competition between Tokyo, Chicago, Madrid and Rio.
"Rio has the best cause to host the Games, first every Olympics for South America. But there has always been doubt about if they manage to host such a large event," said Kobayashi.
Mayor Daley attempted to erase similar doubts about Chicago when he hosted the World Boxing Championships in 2007. At the time, he entertained boxing president CK Wu. Mr. Wu is back in town. Now, he's a member of the evaluation commission judging Chicago.
"We don't usually openly discuss the vote but I can tell you my appreciation to Chicago and my impression of its ability have certainly earned my favor," said Ching-Kuo Wu, IOC Evaluation Commission member.
Moroccan Nawal El Moutawakel Nawal El Moutawakel heads the IOC team. She is also no stranger to the Midwest having attended college at Iowa State.
Chicago's bid team will use technology, personality and perseverance in the coming days to convince the judges we have what it takes.
Ryan says Sunday's venue tour will be key. Although he wishes he could change one thing.
"The flowers were blooming. I wish it were not 35 degrees or whatever it is. But it is still such a great and beautiful city and they're going to see it in a very positive light," said Ryan.
Chicago's charm offensive continues Monday. That's when Oprah Winfrey joins Buddy Guy, Coco Taylor and others for a dinner with IOC members at the Art Institute. That's the one and only time Chicago is allowed to wine and dine the IOC team while they're in town.
IOC sets agenda for visit
On Friday, IOC members set an agenda for what they will see and do during their stay.
On Thursday night, evaluation commission members played the role of tourist, hitting local restaurants in small groups to get a feel for the city.
"We've got sports all along the lakefront and parks. Here's Soldier Field. Here's the rowing venue," said Patrick Ryan, Chicago 2016 CEO.
Ryan showed off a touch screen map that will showcase the city's venues even before the IOC team left its hotel.
It's part of an elaborate meeting space where Chicago will makes its case.
"They really are the eyes and ears of the full Olympic membership," said Ryan.
On Saturday, the presentations begin. They'll cover 17 themes ranging from cost to crowd control.
On Sunday, Mayor Daley will break his long-standing rule against participating in public or political events on Sundays. He'll play tour guide, escorting the IOC via hybrid bus here to Washington Park.
New signs are up. Police stand guard. And trash is being removed.
To the west in Douglas Park, IOC members will see the home of the proposed cycling center. It may not look like much now, but remember inspection team members are often asked to use their imagination.
When London was bidding for the 2012 Games, the IOC got a tour of a semi-toxic waste dump. It's where London's Olympic Village is now being built.
"We've been showing great videos and we've been talking but seeing it is going to be different. It's coming alive," said Ryan.
Meanwhile, Mayor Daley continues talking-up benefits for the entire city.
"This is not about people now, this is about 2016. This is about all the infrastructure improvements you can do with spending from the federal government. It's amazing how much money they spend," said Mayor Daley.
Members of the international media who regularly cover the Olympic movement have been arriving in Chicago all day.
On Friday evening, Mayor Daley will be joined by 25 U.S. Olympians to welcome them at a cocktail party at the top of the Hancock building.
Chicago 2016 hands out 10,000 T-shirts
As IOC members get down to business, Chicago 2016 encourages residents to show their support.
On Friday morning, volunteers with Chicago's Olympic bid handed out 10,000 Chicago 2016 T-shirts and encouraged commuters to wear them around town to show support of the city's bid for the 2016 Games.
Chicago is competing with Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo and Madrid to host the games. The Windy City is the first stop for the IOC evaluation team, which will spend six days in Chicago, before visiting the other bid cities.
A decision on which city will host the 2016 Olympic Games is expected in October.
In a break from tradition, Chicago Mayor Daley will work on Sunday. He will take part of a tour of proposed Olympic venues.
Friday night, members of the IOC team will be the guests of honor at the Art Institute of Chicago. They will be entertained at the celebration, called City Night, by blues legends Koko Taylor and Buddy Guy; songwriter Andrew Bird; and the Chicago Children's Choir. The menu- made with local ingredients- will be put together by Tony Mantuano, chef and partner at Spiaggia.