I’m excited that Chicago is a prospected city for the 2016 Summer Olympics. I think that it will be an interesting time to live here while hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country and the world will descend upon this amazing city. I think that we will easily be able to accommodate them all, both with our infrastructure (I must surely sound like a nut now) and with our good attitudes.
Chicago is a pretty well-known city to the world, especially in the landscape, planning, and architecture cultures. Chicago leads the world in architecture in so many ways.
Atlanta is the American city which most recently held a Summer Olympic Games – that was in 1996. Atlanta received many great benefits from hosting the games: the stadium was converted to become the home of the Braves; the Olympic Village became student housing for Georgia State University; and the city got a major park with Centennial Olympic Park.
However, Downtown Atlanta missed the opportunity to piggyback the Olympics and be revitalized and MARTA, the transit system, was not improved – it hardly can handle the city’s own population.
Transit improvements is one thing that Chicago and Atlanta have in common: we both need more funding to improve quality and speed of service. Fortunately, Chicago has a very broad and deep service system – trains and buses go where we need them, and both of our international airports are directly serviced by trains that leave often. However, yearly funding issues put the CTA’s service in jeopardy and only a few legislatures have stepped up to fix the problem with public funding of the Chicagoland transit agencies.
Chicago is already ahead of many other cities that want the Olympics, including Atlanta. We already have a large, beautiful park to serve as a central meeting location for athletes and spectators. We already have practically all the sports venues we need; facilities at our universities will play a key role, including UIC. Chicago will follow in Atlanta’s footsteps by using as little public money as possible and getting private investors and corporations to pay for the games. We also have a well-established hospitality industry that can temporarily grow to meet the needs of the influx of visitors. And since Chicago is so diverse, travelers will be able to feel welcome in neighborhoods reflecting their home cultures.
Most Chicagoans agree that the CTA will need some help before we can host the Olympics, and I think many people are relying on this prospect to turn the transit agency into something wonderful: always fast and always on time.