Thursday, January 05, 2006


Ever since I was a small child I loved the Olympics. A lot of that has to do with my mom, who is an Olympics junkie. She watches every moment she can of both the winter and summer Olympics. After I became a gymnast, making the Olympic team because a goal I had for a very short time, until I realized it would never ever happen, but I love watching the gymnastics. I like that there is coverage of sports you wouldn't normally get to see. I like the human interest stories.

I always wished Chicago would get to host a summer Olympics. There are many arenas here, and a decent transportation system compared to many other American cities. I thought that way the Olympics would come to me. Tickets are expensive, and it would make it so much easier to go to the events if I didn't have to pay for a flight or an extremely expensive hotel room. I could even get tickets to more events because I could stay at home. Barring that, I always thought the next best thing would be for the Olympics to be held in a city where I have relatives or friends, so I could at least forego the cost of a hotel room. London is great. I could potentially stay with a friend of mine, and get to see London again.

Over the past couple of days, the big story in town is how Mayor Daley would like to put in a bid for Chicago to be awarded the 2016 Olympics. This got me to thinking of what it would actually be like if Chicago was awarded the Games. Many new venues would have to be built which could be used by the community after the Olympics is over, but somewhere in the back of my mind I remember hearing a news story about some venues built for other Olympic Games in other cities that sit empty and unused. While the Olympics might bring in a lot of money to the city because of the tourism it would generate, do the Olympcs actually make money for a city? With all the money the city would have to put into building venues, improving infrastructure, and adding security, would the city make money?

These are important questions, but given that I'm sometimes a selfish little girl, I will admit that none of this means anything compared to one thing. An increase in tourists.

I work in a part of Chicago known as the Magnificent Mile. It's a big shopping area, with some other tourist attractions such as the Water Tower. It's close to Navy Pier, and also close to some of the touristy restaurants such as the Hard Rock Cafe. And yes, I hate tourists. I dread the summer, when I can't walk down the street to get to work without having to dodge multiple tourists. I also dread the holiday season because of the numbers of shoppers who come from out of town and the suburs. What is it about being a tourist that causes people to lose IQ points? I think that most people know you shouldn't stop dead in the middle of a really busy sidewalk, or that you shouldn't stop in front of a revolving door so people in the door can't get out, but when people become tourists all of that common sense flies out the window. And I'm not even going to discuss the chaos in front of American Girl Place. Please don't get me wrong, I think Chicago is a great city and I want people to come here and experience it, but please be polite and know there are locals here who are trying to get to work while your group takes up the whole sidewalk and walks really slowly.

If it's this bad during a regular summer, how bad would it be if the Olympics were in town?

So I'm torn. If the Olympics came to Chicago I would save a lot of money and try to get into as many events as I could. I would take total advantage of that situation. But I think it would make day-to-day life in the city very difficult.


Blogger greatwhitebear said...

Whether or not the Olympics benefits a citydepends largely on the planning and execution of said plan.

Compared to most American cities, Chicago is extremely well run. Say what you want about the machine and corruption, the Daleys run a pretty tight ship.

You can bet on two things. Chicago will put in an impressive bid. And a successful bid will revitalize the near South Side. Because, can you see a Mayor named Daley using the money to benefit the Noth Side?

8:33 AM  
Blogger redhairedgirl said...

That is very true, about the plan and about him fixing the South Side :)

That got me to thinking about when Chicago hosted the 1996 Democratic National Convention. The city spent a lot of money cleaning up the near West Side, from downtown (where the hotels were) to the United Center. It started a whole revitalization of the West Loop neighborhood. It looks nothing like it did before the convention. So that might be a good thing. Of course, then I wonder where the poor people who used to live there went.

9:57 AM  

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