Chicago’s chances of landing the 2016 Games
Exactly one year from now we’ll know if Chicago will host the 2016 Olympic Games. A lot of work has been poured into the city’s Olympic effort in the last few years, but are we any closer to getting the games now than we were when we started?
Transit isn’t up to snuff. Though there are signs that things are getting better, it’s only because most of the system seems to be under perpetual construction. Forget about the billion dollars spend on the Brown Line which will still be crowded when all those dollars are spent. It’s the Blue Line shut downs and bus shuttles that are the real embarrassment and leave a bad taste in visiting mouths.
Hizzonor wants an express train to the airport, just like they have in Hong Kong and most other hubs of civilization. But that would mean DOING something, and this isn’t the Chicago of the 1890’s. There are no visionaries left. No risk-takers. No leaders. Daley’s old man could get it done. The son… not so much.
It’s not strange to place such importance on transportation when hosting a major international event like the Olympics. Beijing built two entirely new modern subway lines. Chicago is going to try to make due with the same creaky routes we’ve had since the middle of the last century. Not because they are good, but because the leadership is bad.
Here’s a cultural exercise I actually participated in once:
- Step one: Leave your hotel in Hong Kong and ride the Airport Express train to HKG.
- Step two: Sleep on the flight from HKG to ORD.
- Step three: Ride the Blue Line from ORD to home.
It’ll leave you wondering which city is part of the Third World.
The importance of transportation cannot be underestimated. Crain’s recently reported that Tokyo is in the lead for the 2016 games in large part because of its transportation network. Tokyo’s competing subway companies move 23,000,000 people each day. That’s 20 times more than the CTA. Tokyo can absorb the Olympic Games without blinking. For Chicago it will be a hardship that the city must convince the IOC it wants.
Here’s what’s coming up:
- February 2, 2009: The final filing deadline for the candidate cities.
- April, 2009: The International Olympic Committee visits to inspect Chicago.
- October 2, 2009: The announcement is made in Copenhagen.