Friday, January 26, 2007

And the 2016 Summer Olympics will be held in (read the story to find out)

Thursday’s HB Insider Report conclusively proved the 2016 Summer Olympic Games will be awarded to the United States of America when the International Olympic Committee meets in October 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark to select which city will be selected to host the 2016 Games. Los Angeles and Chicago both delivered their domestic bid books to the United States Olympic Committee filled with goodies and a great deal more in hopes of winning the right to represent the United States in Copenhagen in 26 months time.

Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid is spearheaded by Mayor Richard Daley the son of the late Richard Daley. Daley’s father was the driving force behind national Democratic parties and at the center of the 1968 Democratic Convention which was held in Chicago and many believe led to the protest movement that helped Richard Nixon’s 1968 Presidential election. The current Mayor Daley grew up at the foot of one of America’s craftiest politicians in the 21st century. Daley knows how the game is played and he knows how to play the game to win.

A great example of how the game is played -- Daley was officially welcomed in Beijing by the government of the People's Republic of China during the week of May 15, 2006, when the mayor discussed Chicago's venture; he is the only mayor of an American city vying for the 2016 Summer Olympics to have been welcomed to Beijing on official Olympic business. When Daley visited the host city for the 2008 Games there were five American cities interested in hosting the 2016 Games. The USOC eliminated Houston and Philadelphia from the process and San Francisco withdrew after the collapse of the 49’ers stadium plans, leaving Chicago and Los Angeles.

Chicago's chances for hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics are bolstered by preliminary commitments made by major corporations and wealthy Chicago philanthropists; promised participation in the planning process by community and government leaders (including the Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, a political party usually opposed to Daley); and the enthusiasm of the citizenry.

Opinion polls conducted by local newspapers in early 2006 suggested that public support for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Chicago could be as high as 80 to 85 percent. Most importantly, the city's existing infrastructure and venue options are considerably more substantial than the offerings available in other interested cities.

Bob Ctvrtlik, part of the initial USOC’s assessment team, said, "It's got all the amenities that would make this a wonderful experience for our athletes." Ueberroth added, "Chicago is going in the right direction, and we are impressed by that."

The Chicago bid committee held a media reception on Tuesday the day after their domestic bid was submitted to the USOC. The highlights of the bid, according to a Chicago Tribune report included:

A temporary stadium at Washington Park, the lynchpin for the Games, has reduced in size, while cost estimates have risen. The plan now calls for 80,000 seats, rather than 95,000, to trim costs. This is estimated to cost $316 million.

After the stadium is dismantled, another $50 million will be spent to construct a lasting amphitheater in Washington Park. The facility, for cultural and sporting events, will seat 5,000, down from the 10,000 originally planned.

The combined cost of the temporary stadium and the amphitheater, $366 million, is up from earlier estimates of $300 million to $320 million. A nationally known contractor has committed to build it for that amount, adjusted for inflation, though ultimately the project will go out for bid.

The stadium design was unveiled, showing a bowl-shape arena, with a partial roof over seating for Olympics officials and the media. An outer skin will display dramatic images of Olympic athletics, and live coverage of the events will be projected on huge screens, at Washington Park and in other city parks, including Grant Park.

The overall plan, which concentrates most venues downtown, by the lakefront or in city parks, becomes even more downtown-centric, with a decision to move the rowing competition from the South Side lakefront to Monroe Harbor. The cost of adapting the harbor is estimated at $50 million.

Six private developers have signed letters of intent to bid on construction of a $1.1 billion Olympic Village, to be erected on a platform above the truck parking lot at McCormick Place. This project, too, will go out for bid. Officials said the city is committed to seeing an Olympic Village complex, even if Chicago does not get the Games. The goal is to transform and create a new community that will be very much like the high-rise communities along North Lake Shore Drive.

"The Prudential Building was built on air rights. North Wacker Drive is built on air rights. Chicago has a great history of creating really important land value out of air rights [and] building over impediments. ... Millennium Park is that," Chicago 2016 Chairman Pat Ryan told the media Tuesday.

"The city is so excited about this development that it will go forward irrespective of whether we win. ... This new lakefront living will be like the North Side. They'll look out onto Burnham Park, a beach and the new harbor at 31st Street. It'll be the same kind of living. ... There will be an access point over the Outer Drive for the Near South Side. That's a major urban legacy we're creating."

Ryan made one issue very clear Tuesday – a point that should be clear to any city interested in seriously bidding for the 2016 Olympic Games.

"If there's uncertainty on the regulatory [or financing] side, we won't win. We know that. We're getting rid of the uncertainty," Ryan said, predicting that a Chicago Olympics would generate a surplus in the "hundreds of millions of dollars."

One of the key concepts behind Chicago’s 2016 plans includes a temporary Olympic Stadium. Atlanta converted their 80,000 1996 Olympic Stadium into Turner Field immediately following their Games. The 2000 Sydney Olympic Stadium located 45 miles from the cities center (along with most of the 2000 Olympic faculties) have been largely used since the Games ended seven years ago. The same holds true for the legacy from the 2004 Athens Olympic Stadium. Used Olympic Stadiums that represent little more than symbolic white elephants and do nothing but damage the IOC’s reputation.

“Chicago now is a truly a global city in character and in commerce. But, many of us have noticed when we go overseas the perception hasn't quite caught up with reality," Daley told The Chicago Sun Times earlier this week. "If we want this city to thrive in a global economy, we have to do everything we can to raise our city's profile before an international audience. The Olympic Games give us that great opportunity."

Los Angeles hosted the Olympic Games in 1932 and 1984. Both have long been recognized as two of the most successful Games ever to be held. After Montreal’s disasters debt ridden 1976 debacle; the only city interested in bidding for the 1984 Olympics was Los Angeles. After a United States led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics nearly ended the modern Olympic movement, Los Angeles agreed to move forward with their 1984 selection only if the Games wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime.

Los Angeles Olympic organizers turned to Peter Ueberroth, who stood and delivered. The Montreal Olympics had more than 600 sponsors, the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Games more than 350 sponsors. Ueberroth believed fewer sponsors (exclusivity) would bring bigger dollars. It was Peter Ueberroth who conceived the Olympic TOP program, it was Peter Ueberroth’s vision that saved the Olympic Games and turned the debt ridden Games into a money making machine. The 1984 Games, eight years after Montreal lost more than $1 billion generated a profit of $250 million. Ueberroth currently serving as the President of the United States Olympic Committee led the city of Los Angeles in 1984 to the biggest save in Olympic history, securing the future of the Olympic Games.

Can Los Angeles become the first city of host the modern Olympic Games three times (historically the modern Olympic Games date back to the 1896 Athens Games)?

"We offer the United States Olympic Committee a very compelling bid submission for Los Angeles to host the 2016 Olympic Games," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "Los Angeles is where the whole world comes together, and if chosen, we will bring all that is California to the athletes, to the Olympic Movement, and to the world."

Los Angeles' bid includes the use of historic Olympic venues like the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, new state-of-art facilities like the Home Depot Center and the Staples Center arena which did not exist at the time of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The SCCOG plan also includes the combined resources of UCLA, which will serve as the Olympic Village for the athletes, and USC, which will serve as the Media/Family Village.

"Because we can stage the Games with almost no construction of permanent facilities, we can turn our attention to building human spirit, human achievement and joy -- the fundamental Olympic values," said Barry Sanders, chairman of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games.

One of the many ways that the Los Angeles bid will break new ground in this area is in creating a state-wide Olympic cultural program, 'Peak Performance.'

"It will be unprecedented in its size and scope making the connection between brilliance in athletic performance and brilliance in every intellectual and artistic pursuit for which this state is known, from scholarly debate to great food and wine," Sanders said.

"Los Angeles provides a higher stage on which the athletes can perform, and we will employ our star power to put a spotlight on their achievements," said Sanders. "We will capture the imagination of the whole world for the Games and the athletes."

"In bidding, we make these commitments: we will use our ample resources, including our outstanding ingenuity, creativity, high technology, energy, climate, facilities, stable finances and personal determination in services to the Olympic movement and the athletes," said Sanders.

Los Angeles bid will certainly offer a great deal of “panache”. Last Friday California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joined with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games (SCCOG) and Olympians at the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to voice his overwhelming support and that of all of California for Los Angeles’ bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

Flanked by city and county officials from across the region and children from Vermont Elementary School who participate in the SCCOG’s Ready, Set, Gold! fitness program, Gov. Schwarzenegger said California and Los Angeles will welcome the world if chosen.

"I could not be more proud of the great bid Los Angeles has put together to host the 2016 Games," said Gov. Schwarzenegger. "Los Angeles has all the facilities the Olympic Games need. It also has incredible tradition and a Gold Medal record when it comes to hosting these great summer games. Los Angeles embodies the Olympic spirit. It is a city built on dreams, where anything is possible."

“The Games are not something the Olympic Committee does for a city; they are something a city does for the Olympic Movement and for the athletes of the world,” said Barry Sanders, SCCOG Chairman. “Today, Los Angeles’ great institutions, including USC and UCLA, join with our Governor, our Mayor, our Olympians, our children and the people of California with a commitment to honor that promise.”

“The support we have from our elected officials across the city, region and state matches the high level of enthusiasm from Olympians like me,” said Olympian Peter Vidmar, who earned his two gold medals in gymnastics during the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. “A total of 1,147 Californians have been U.S. Olympians and Paralympians since 1896, and we will carry their spirit forward, to honor our Olympian tradition by making the 2016 Games all about the athletes.”

The United States Olympic Committee plans on announcing which of the two cities will represent the United States of America in bidding for the 2016 Games on April 14. The two choices represent two very different choices.

Los Angeles is the safer choice. Los Angeles has hosted the Games twice and while the IOC has opted for cities that haven’t hosted the Games, having their opportunity to host an Olympic Games, Los Angeles’ Olympic track record is second to none. And let’s remember Olympic Games were losing hundreds of millions of dollars leading up to the 1984 Games. The 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee guaranteed the 1984 Summer Games wouldn’t lose a dime and they delivered on that all important financial commitment.

Chicago was awarded the 1904 Games, but the Games were moved to St. Louis the host of the 1904 Worlds Fair. Chicago 2016 Chairman Pat Ryan made it clear Tuesday one of the keys would be assuring everyone that there are no financial concerns relating to the Chicago bid will be very important, the key to the entire bid. It makes far more sense for the USOC to choose Chicago, if Chicago can make the needed financial guarantees.
For all the reasons Southern California is a great choice, Chicago is an even better pick because Chicago has never hosted an Olympic Games.

If Chicago can paint the perfect financial picture Los Angeles can guarantee, than the USOC will award the right to represent the United States in bidding for the 2016 Games to Chicago. But if Chicago cannot make that iron-clad pledge the choice will be Los Angeles. At the end of the day, it is Chicago’s bid to lose.

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom. Sources cited in this Insider Report: The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun Times and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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