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. First stop: venues and layout.
One of the main criterion that the IOC uses in choosing a host city is venues for the sports. When you consider how the Bird's Nest and Water Cube made an indelible mark on the Beijing games, this makes sense. The layout of the games is also important because organizers want the Olympics to be an easy place to get around for the many visitors that come with the Olympics.
The centerpiece of Chicago's plan is very much the centerpiece of Chicago, Lake Michigan. As a proud native of Chicago, I love bringing visitors to the lake because it always surprises them. I had one friend from Belfast not believe me when I promised her that it wasn't an ocean. Chicago 2016 has planned to use the lake as a backdrop for the games. The Athlete's Village would be on Lake Michigan, just south of Soldier Field. Lake Michigan would also be used for rowing events. The compact aspect of the layout, along with the fact that Chicago was built on an easy-to-understand grid, make the layout a definite strength in the bid.
There are already several venues already in place. The United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks, located just west of downtown, would host gymnastics and basketball finals. The McCormick Center, also on the lakefront near Soldier Field, would be home to everything from judo to weightlifting. Boxing would take place at the UIC Pavillion, just miles from the site of the old Chicago Stadium, home to many legendary boxing matches. If baseball and softball were to return to the Olympics, facilities already exist. Softball could be played and practiced at UIC, Northwestern and DePaul, home to top 25 softball programs. And could there be a better place for a baseball gold medal final than Wrigley Field?
Several facilities do need to be built, including spaces for water and equestrian events and the Olympic Stadium. Chicago's plan calls for the stadium to be built in Washington Park, near the University of Chicago, and the historic Midway, once home to the World's Fair of 1893. The Olympics of 2016 would be no less of a historically important event for Chicago, and it would give the world a chance to find out what I've known my entire life - this city is pretty special.
Photo via Chicago2016.org