Chicago, Olympics, Washington Park

In his attempt to bring the Olympics to Chicago in 2016, Mayor Daley has proposed building a temporary, 95,000 seat complex in Washington Park for the opening and closing ceremonies. And supposedly, after the Olympics pack up and leave town, the plan calls for a permanent, 10,000 seat complex in the same spot. He says that this will revitalize the area, which I believe to be true. All those spectators carrying all those dollars can’t be a bad thing for a neighborhood that desperately needs it.

But does it strike anyone as odd/smarmy that the revitalization tag is being used here? It’s no secret that Daley wants the Olympics and he wants it bad. But why should it take such an event to invest money in Chicago’s needy neighborhoods? The only reason he moved further south with his plans is because the lakefront wouldn’t support that type of traffic. Otherwise Wash Park wouldn’t even be on the radar.

Dont get me wrong…if Wash Park can benefit from this, then more power to them. But using money as a way to persuade people to say yes reminds me of why I dislike politics in the first place.

8 Comments so far

  1. Dave! (unregistered) on September 21st, 2006 @ 8:20 am

    Well, *theoretically* it takes such an event to invest in the needy neighborhoods because the event is what brings *in* the money that is being invested.

    But I think you’re wrong about why he moved it south. As noted on BEZ this morning, the Washington Park site just so happens to border *4* districts that are predominantly African-American. It’s no coincidence that Da Mayor recently vetoed a bill to ensure those folks a living wage, but when seeking re-election, the promise of new jobs and an economic boon like this might just seal the deal in voting booths. Traffic ain’t got nothin’ to do with it.

  2. steven (unregistered) on September 21st, 2006 @ 8:28 am

    Good points, Dave!. I do think it’s a fantastic idea to bring money into that area. But it’s not a coincidence. I guess in the end it’s just a matter of Daley hoping he gets his back scratched come re-election time.

  3. Bill V (unregistered) on September 21st, 2006 @ 8:38 am

    I am not familiar with the plan from top to bottom. I do know that park is huge and there are many ways to get there. It’s mostly just made up of softball fields that are vacant most of the time. The area does need a revitalization, I just don’t see us getting the Olympics anyway.

  4. Ben (unregistered) on September 21st, 2006 @ 8:41 am

    While having the Olympics in Chicago may (or may not) be exciting for a couple weeks and bring in some revenue for area business, what happens when the Olympics go away? The people in that area will be stuck back in that same situation. Hopefully, people will not fall for the supposed economic “benefits”.

    We don’t need no stinkin’ Olympics anyways; we’ve got Da Bears.

  5. steven (unregistered) on September 21st, 2006 @ 8:48 am

    Another aspect of this issue is the park itself, which has some history behind it. It was designed in the late 1800s by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (from I believe it has some historical/landmark value as well, but I doubt that would get in the way of any development, which would destroy the original design and layout.

  6. NSH (unregistered) on September 21st, 2006 @ 9:32 am

    First the World Series, now the Olympics!

  7. Lerusha (unregistered) on September 22nd, 2006 @ 11:36 pm

    It is ridiculous to destroy nature in such a selfish way. It is the same as Meigs Field, Soilder’s Field and any other historical site that is destroyed because of man’s desire to take something that he does not need. There are many cultural activities that take place in Washington Park that relate to the Black Community. I don’t understand where the voices are to make this not happen.

  8. Gemini Moon (unregistered) on October 4th, 2006 @ 2:27 pm

    I applaud Mayor Daley. This is an incredible oppurtunity to develop and improve surrounding neighborhoods on the south side of Chicago. I dont see where anyone loses in this effort. I think Mayor Daley is a great mayor and has proven his proficiency. This was a fantastic idea from the start and no one should stand in Chicago’s way!!

    Gemini Moon
    Dearborn MI

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