“The Battle for the Bid – One Year Later”

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.

It is our hope that the story of the battle for the bid will help frame and inform the civic work that will be unfolding in Chicago.

The event will take place at the Experimental Station in the form of a narrative. Three of the lead organizers for No Games Chicago will tell their stories of what happened and will reflect on the lessons they learned. The audience will be invited to comment and ask questions. The intent is to engage in a conversation about what larger lessons we can take from this battle for the bid and how that might inform the activist and political landscapes. The three storytellers are Tom Tresser, Bob Quellos and Martin Macias, Jr.

The Experimental Station is a not-for-profit (501-c-3) incubator of innovative cultural, educational, and environmental projects and small-scale enterprises. The Experimental Station seeks to provide essential resources that enable vulnerable, yet valuable initiatives to stabilize and flourish. To this end, the Station offers various forms of support to its occupants, including workspace at discounted rents, meeting space, technology, and the economy of shared resources. The occupants are asked to give back to the community by offering lectures, exhibitions, or other types of events that are free and open to the public.

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2 responses to ““The Battle for the Bid – One Year Later”

  1. I clearly have no respect for a coalition of such stupidity. When each of you people go to bed every night think about what you did to this city. This should haunt you guys forever, because what you did will haunt the city forever. You obviously don’t care about making this city an international city.

  2. Thanks for your hard work! If we had gotten the games, housing would have gone through the roof and a lot of people like myself wouldn’t have been able to buy places thanks to speculation.

    And of course, the 2016 people had the worst video’s of all the cities vying for the games…

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