Final push for U.S. bid of 2016 Summer Games
April 10, 2007 (WLS) -- The countdown to a major decision is on: just four days remain until we learn whether Chicago or Los Angeles will be selected to be the US city to push an international bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.
That decision will be announced Saturday in Washington DC. Members of Chicago's Olympic committee are polishing their final presentation, and for the first time, the head of that committee is handicapping the city's odds against Los Angeles.
Talking to Aon insurance tycoon Pat Ryan, you can't help but feel like this is akin to an episode of The Apprentice. On Saturday, after each city makes its case, Pat Ryan And Mayor Daley along with representatives of LA's bid team will be called into a boardroom and one city will essentially be told "you're fired."
"I would say it's too close to call," said Patrick Ryan, Chicago 2016 chairman.
Ryan has coached his team into the playoffs. This weekend, in a meeting room in Washington, teams from LA and Chicago will each have one hour to convince the US Olympic Committee Board they have what it takes to compete and win on the international stage.
"It's been clear from the beginning the LA plan and the Chicago plan are quite different, and I think it'll be which of those two plans will resonate with the International Olympic Committee," said Ryan.
Ryan's team will use their pitch-time Saturday to reassure the USOC that the Olympic stadium and village can be constructed on-time and on-budget.
Los Angeles, which already has almost all of its venues built, will have to overcome the "ho-hum factor" of bringing the Games back to LA for a third time. Mayor Daley believes that plays to Chicago's advantage.
"I have the utmost respect for Los Angeles. Antonio is a good friend of mine. He's done a great job as mayor, in regards to taking on the schools and quality of life issues, but they've had it twice before," said Mayor Daley.
Chicago's Olympic committee has raised $32 million in the last year. The team has worked to reassure residents and city council members that the Games would benefit the entire region.
Pat Ryan conceded Tuesday, springing a taxpayer-backed financial guarantee on residents at the last minute could have been handled better, but on the whole he believes the Olympic legacy far outweighs any risk.
"I think if we're honored and favored with the win, and then we win in 2009, there will be few things in the history of this city that will have been as impacting on all of the citizens of this city," Ryan said.
In addition to hearing final presentations from Pat Ryan, Mayor Daley and their Los Angeles counterparts, the US Olympic Committee will hear the report of the site team that visited both cities. They will layout the pros and cons of Chicago and Los Angeles. They will also reveal the results of polling done in each city asking residents if they want the games. The site team won't offer an endorsement of either city, but that's standard.
The decision will be announced Saturday sometime after 3 p.m.
How is the money spent?
"It's easier to sell Chicago than it is insurance," said Ryan.
Ryan says the Olympics have been an easy sell. In less than a year, the Chicago 2016 Committee has raised $32 million. The money came in at fundraisers and from some of the region's best-known businesses.
The Chicago 2016 bank statement looks like this: Of the $32 million raised, sources say far less than $7 million has been spent. If Chicago isn't selected Saturday, a significant portion of the leftover money would be refunded to donors.
The money spent so far has gone to buy advertising space around the city, produce promotional videos and pay for trips to Olympic host cities like London and Athens. Chicago 2016 has fewer than a dozen full-time staff members.
Thousands of man-hours have been donated by firms like Skidmore, Owings and Merrill -- the firm is the master planner for the Chicago Games. They estimate local architectural firms have donated $3 million worth of services to plan major venues like the Olympic stadium and village.
"There's nothing like architecture and urban design, the physical reality that can really coalesce people around a big idea," said Tom Kerwin, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
Attorneys, PR firms and other companies have donated an additional $9 million in goods and services. All, of course, stand to benefit in profit and prestige if the Games come to Chicago.
Does all this time, talent and cash directed toward the Olympics drain resources away from other worthwhile endeavors? Experts claim it doesn't.
"Typically, donations to a very unique event don't effect peoples ongoing gifts for the year. Typically, people will view this as being above and beyond their normal giving," said Laurie Styron, American Institute of Philanthropy.
ABC7's Ben Bradley will be traveling to the nation's capitol for the Olympic announcement. He will begin reporting live on Friday. We will stream the announcement live on Saturday afternoon on this web site.
Watch the Chicago Olympic Pitch Video
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