I recently had a conversation with a Community Relations Director for Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid. Due to not having won the bid yet, the role and activity of corporate sponsors has not taken off. But it was still fascinating and encouraging to hear how thoughtful they have been in heeding the “mistakes” of the past (i.e. Montreal).
They are really trying to think through each piece with an eye on sustainability and they aren’t just focusing on the environment. For example, particularly since Chicago wouldn’t require much new construction, they are trying to make sure that the surge in jobs creation is accompanied by job training so that jobs created will be sustainable long after the games. Also, they are trying to make sure that any new facilities created i.e. a new velodrome (good for us cyclists!) could be re-purposed e.g. to house indoor HS sports for the City of Chicago which currently does not have an indoor HS athletics space; something that would certainly help during harsh Chicago winters.
And while gentrification is an issue, it is an issue they are handling with grace and empathy. The harsh reality is that gentrification, with the games or not, are likely going to happen to many of the neighborhoods that will be affected by the games. And while individuals will likely be pushed out against their will the hope is that the neighborhoods and residents will ultimately benefit from the investment made around the games.
That’s the hope.
Ultimately it seems that Mayor Daley is resting his legacy on these games and he wants to make sure he leaves a good one. While legacy is not ultimately the noblest of drivers at least it’s motivation to make sure that the legacy of the 2016 Games will be lauded by Chicagoans and historians far into the future.