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Maggie Hendricks

Looking at the bid for Chicago 2016: leadership

Maggie Hendricks
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A few years ago, I wrote a letter to the mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley. I asked him to consider putting up Chicago as a candidate for the Olympics in 2016, and then outlined the many reasons why Chicago would be perfect for the games. One month later, Mayor Daley announced that Chicago would seek the bid for the Olympics in 2016. Coincidence? You decide as FPM takes you through Chicago's bid and chances to win the games. Yesterday, we looked at the venues and layout. Today, we look at the leadership of the bid.

Obviously, the IOC wants people in place who can handle the massive undertaking that is the Olympics. Chicago's team is a mix of politicians, businesspeople and former athletes who are comfortable shaking hands with everyone from heads of state to small children.

Mayor Richard Daley: It can be difficult to convey to non-Chicagoans the power and charisma of Mayor Richard M. Daley, pictured above with IOC president, Jacques Rogge. The man gets what he wants, and does it in a way to make you think you wanted the same thing. He may look like an everyday schlub, but during his reign -- and yes, that is the right word -- he has taken over the schools and public transportation, built the breathtaking Millennium Park, and kept clean when scandals took down many around him. If Chicago gets the games, it will be due to the sheer will of Daley.

Patrick Ryan, Chicago 2016 CEO: Ryan is also the chairman of the board of Aon Corporation. According to his biography, he was chosen to lead the bid because of his leadership in the sport, business and civic communities. His leadership in those arenas is undeniable, but he was also chosen for another reason. He has scads of money, and lots of friends with scads of money. Since the bid team has promised multiple times that the bid will be financed with private money, Ryan has the task of making sure that money comes through. He has been quite successful in that task, recently raising $12 million in one evening.

Jim and Bill Scherr: These twin brothers are lynchpins to the success of the Chicago bid. Both are former athletes, having wrestled at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Jim went on to first become executive director of USA Wrestling, seeing it through its most prosperous period, and is now the CEO of the USOC. He is credited with calming the chaos at the USOC. Bill is chairman of the board of World Sport Chicago, an organization founded by Chicago 2016 that brings world-class sporting events to Chicago, including the World Boxing Championships last August. The Scherrs experience as athletes and executives will be attractive to the IOC, who makes the athletes' experience a priority.

It should not be overlooked that a possible future president, Barack Obama, is a Chicagoan and lives just a few blocks from the proposed site of the Olympic Stadium. Obama has publicly supported the bid. A presidential seal of approval could seriously bolster the Chicago's chances.

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