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Main | July 2009 »

June 2009

06/18/2009

And finally tonight...

(LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND)  Couldn't leave town without investigating one more story that's on every Chicagoan's mind:  


Cost to park at a meter in downtown Chicago for one hour: $3.50
Cost to park at a meter in downtown Lausanne for one hour: $2.50
Being sent to Switzerland to cover an important story by a station that cares about doing it right: Priceless

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See you back in Chicago!

A few photos...

Mayor Daley responds to concerns that Chicago is "giving away the store."  Below, the Mayor in a presentation room where IOC members were given a "virtual view" of the city.

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Daley: 'I get it'


(LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND) Just talked at length with Mayor Daley about the skepticism, anger, frustration being expressed back home about the possibility that Chicago might be on the hook if the Olympic budget goes "boom!"

"You're not on the hook because it was purposely intended to protect the taxpayer," Daley told me.  "That means everything goes bankrupt in the world.  The whole thing collapses in 2016.  That's what you're looking at."

Chicago 2016 and the Mayor's Office are scrambling to explain to taxpayers how providing written assurances to the IOC that any significant cost overruns will be picked up by the city is a good deal. Chicago 2016's budget projects a $500 million surplus after the Games.  Add to that a $500 million dollar private insurance policy and Chicago would have to be more than a billion dollars in the hole before city and state guarantees kick-in.  A one billion loss on a budget whose expenses are projected at $3.3 billion?  That would be tough to do.

"Do you understand the skepticism?" I asked the Mayor.  "Oh sure," Daley said.  "Especially now in a tight economy.  This economy I keep telling people is very, very challenging and difficult.  But remember: We're looking forward to 2016 and all the protections are there to protect the taxpayers of Chicago. 

Watch our exclusive interview with the Mayor from Switzerland below:

"They're worried about what??"


(LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND)  They just don't get it.

Members of the International Olympic Committee I'm talking with here in Switzerland don't understand why Chicago taxpayers would be worried about Mayor Daley's decision to sign the host city agreement.  That deal essentially puts Chicagoans on the hook if there are more than a few hundred million dollars in cost over-runs.

"In sports you always take a certain risk and if you want to win if you don't take any risk you will for sure not win," Gian-Franco Kasper, IOC member from Switzerland told me this morning.

06/17/2009

Uh oh, No O.


(LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND)  President Barack Obama has been more than generous with his time when it comes to supporting Chicago's Olympic bid.  During the final months of the campaign he joined a rally at Daley Plaza.  The President has mentioned the bid in speeches and recorded several video messages played to influential members of the Olympic movement.

But here in Lausanne, the task of underscoring federal support for Chicago's bid fell to White House Senior Advisor (and former Chicago 2016 board member) Valerie Jarrett. She spoke via videotape to the IOC.

President Lula of Brazil recorded a message for the IOC as did Madrid's President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.  When asked why there was no Obama message, Chicago 2016 Chairman Patrick Ryan said Chicago chose to follow the rules of the presentation set forth by the IOC.  They stipulate no celebrities or political leaders need attend.

Post Game Interviews

(LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND)  Have I mentioned this place looks like the front of a postcard?  


Chicago's bid team let out a huge sigh of relief following the conclusion of their presentation this morning.  I was with them as they retreated to a lovely hotel nestled at the top of a great lawn that spills into Lake Geneva.  Mayor Daley slipped off his suit coat while seeking shade under a century old tree.  

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Let the presentations begin!

(LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND) Chicago Mayor Richard Daley went to a museum today but he's not focused on the past.  He used his time here at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland with the goal of winning a competition that could change the city's future.

Daley leads the Chicago 2016 delegation for one of only two opportunities to lobby the IOC at large.  All of the 2016 Candidate Cities are here in Lausanne making their case for why they would be the best location for the Games.
More than 90 of the 107 International Olympic Committee members who will pick the winner are present.  


Daley's team is talking-up Chicago's compact plan to host the Games in the heart of the city.  Chicago's team will also use part of the 45 minute presentation to reassure IOC members that sufficient private funds can be raised to host the Olympics.  Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid are also presenting today.  They will call their plans "reliable" during a global recession because each city would receive federal funding to host the Games.

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06/16/2009

From Chicago, with love

(LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND)  They traveled 4,000 miles and spent several thousand dollars of their own money to deliver a simple message: We don't want the Olympics in Chicago.


Three representatives of the group "No Games Chicago" made a perfectly timed visit to International Olympic Committee Headquarters in Switzerland.  They arrived just as IOC President Jacques Rogge concluded a press briefing, which meant many reporters were on hand to document their gripes.

"Lack of money.  Lack of competence. Lack of infrastructure. Lack of public support. How's that?" responded Tom Tresser when I asked why Chicago doesn't deserve the Games.  Tresser and his cadre delivered boxes of news clippings to the IOC detailing corruption and budget problems in Chicago and Illinois.

A reporter from Chicago 2016 competitor Rio de Janeiro even helped the No Games group carry their boxes into the IOC offices.  The Olympic Committee's chief communications officer met with Tresser.  The IOC's Evaluation Commission also listened to the group's gripes during their visit to Chicago in April.

Olympic roller skating??

(LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND)  - Lost in the shadows of the spotlight shining on the 2016 race is another competition, this one to determine new sports to be added to the Olympic dossier.  


Baseball, softball, karate, squash, rugby, roller sports and golf are vying to be included in the 2016 Olympic Games.  Representatives of the various sports are here in Lausanne pitching the IOC as we speak.  IOC President Jacques Rogge confirmed Monday that only two of the seven will be allowed to join the Olympic sport roster.  

As much as Chicago would welcome the prospect of hosting Olympic baseball games at Wrigley and US Cellular Fields (sources say both would be used, with the final matches likely played at the Cell due to its superior skyboxes) the reality is baseball is a long shot for inclusion.

The Olympic movement (like the rest of us) is desperately trying to reclaim its youth.  It's widely believed the IOC will chose sports with the greatest appeal to the younger demographics worldwide sponsors seek.

06/15/2009

Olympic Museum where 2016 presentations will take place Wednesday

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