All of 30 people made it to The Experimental Station Tuesday night to hear No Games organizers Bob Quellos and Tom Tresser reveal the story behind the “Battle for the Bid.” A conversation was at least started about what lessons for civic Chicago can be taken from the bid process and the opposition to it.
Jamie Kalven introduces Tom and Bob.
Listen to the story by clicking here and going to Evoca.com (49 minutes).
Coverage of the event:
PUBLIC FORUM – TUESDAY – OCTOBER 12, 7PM – 8:30PM
THE EXPERIMENTAL STATION – 6100 S. BLACKSTONE AVENUEOn October 2, 2010 Chicago lost its bid to produce and host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. For some, the decision was a shattering blow to the ego of the city and a monumental defeat for the city’s powerful, led by Mayor Daley. To others it was a triumph of grass roots community organizing in face of the most powerful people on the planet. On one side there was the 2016 Committee led by Pat Ryan, the founder of AON Insurance and… Lori Healey, the former Chief of Staff to Mayor Daley and behind them stood the entire Chicago business, media, academic, philanthropic and nonprofit communities.
The 2016 Committee had access to almost unlimited resources, raised $90 million and had the support of all elected officials in Illinois and the President of the United States. On the other side stood a organized group of concerned citizens called No Games Chicago who had virtually no resources, no office and less than a handful of allies. The “battle for the bid” has never been told publicly. It represents a major teaching moment in the life of the city. Even more so as Mayor Daley has announced his retirement.
Some say the loss of the Olympics was a factor in his decision. If this is the case, it’s very fitting to take some time at the one year anniversary of the decision by the International Olympic Committee to ask what happened, why and what does it portend for Chicago’s future?
The battle for the bid offers telling lessons on a number of fronts. This was a clash of two fundamentally different views of how to make a city prosperous. It was about local politics and who gets to decide the fate of neighborhoods. It was about Big Contracts and inside players. It was about privatization of public assets with no public debate. It was about wrestling with the question of “What is a city for?” and “How do we use the resources of a city to make opportunity happen?” It was about democracy, dissent and fear. It was about old school organizing and new school technologies. It was about nose counting and strategic messaging. Happening, ironically, during the one hundredth anniversary of the Burnham Plan, the battle for the bid engendered virtually no such discussion while it was in full swing.
Now, one year later, an examination of the battle will help set up just about every relevant issue that the city will be facing as it picks its next mayor.
NBC Chicago aired a “documentary” on the 2016 Olympic bid tonight, “Making Big Plans: The Story of Chicago’s Olympic Dreams.” The film was made by Mark Mitten, who was the Chief Brand Officer of the 2016 Committee, and Jim Schmidt, a creative director for Downtown Partners/Chicago – which did marketing work for the bid.
WATCH THE HALF-HOUR VIDEO ON VEOH.COM
According to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Lewis Lazare…
“the documentary ends on a hopeful note with a chapter called “The Beginning or the End?” In this segment, Mitten and Schmidt present comments from several expert sources suggesting the city would be smart to go after the Olympics again. Though the bid failed, Patrick Sandusky, the chief spokesman for the Chicago 2016 committee, is seen at the end of the documentary noting it gave the city a massive amount of marketing exposure on a global scale that otherwise might have taken 30 or 40 years to get. And the bid has left as its legacy World Sport Chicago, a program to train Chicago athletes who just might compete in the Olympics when the Games finally do come to our city.”
Of course, these Olympic pitchmen didn’t check in with any of the No Games Chicago team. We could’ve told them the Other Sode of the “Olympic Dream.” We might’ve mentioned how the citizens of Vancouver lost hundreds of acres of old growth forest, of the violations of civil liberties, of the death of an athlete on the first day of competition and of the $1.5 BILLION DEBT THE CITIZENS OF VANCOUVER MUST NOW DEAL WITH. Oh, and we might’ve also mentioned that the 2013 London games are $10 BILLION OVER BUDGET.
Memo to candidates lining up to run for Mayor. No Games 2020.