City Council Committee Signs Off On Chicago 2016 Host City Contract

A city council committee approved Tuesday an ordinance that would authorize Chicago Mayor Richard Daley to sign the Olympics host city agreement that amounts to an open-ended guarantee from Chicago taxpayers if there are major cost overruns should Chicago host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

The contract would require the city to cover cost overruns beyond the $750 million already backed by the city and the state. The Chicago Tribune reports Olympic organizers say insurance policies would protect the public, making it unlikely they would require the $750 million.

The Chicago Sun Times reports the city’s reluctance to match the blank-cheque promise to cover Olympic losses made by Chicago’s rivals for the bid – Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro – was the major criticism cited by the International Olympic Committee in its evaluation report issued last week.

The matter is scheduled to go before the full council Wednesday and is expected to be approved, reports Chicago Business.

Lori Healey, President of Chicago 2016 said, “with three weeks and three days before the vote, it would be great to come out of this with a unanimous send-off”.

She called the vote a critical step for the bid, adding, “we want to go to Copenhagen with support. We got almost all the way there. No matter what, there’s a belief that our committee is prepared to be transparent and open all through this process if we’re selected to win”.

The ordinance reportedly guarantees that aldermen will have “tremendous oversight” over Olympic spending and operations, as the Civic Federation has recommended. The City Council will also get quarterly reports on virtually all matters Olympics, including construction contracts, schedules and overruns, Olympic revenues and expenditures, forecasts of future revenues and expenses, staff diversity, minority contracting and insurance, and copies of financial reports submitted to the IOC.