Sunday, April 5, 2009

Analysis: Daley's big game: All or nothing

Mayor Daley's singular -- bordering on obsessive -- focus on hosting the 2016 Summer Olympic Games marks a return to an all-or-nothing strategy that has failed him in the past.

In the early years of his 20-year reign, Daley gambled and lost on a string of mega-projects.

He's doubling-down on Chicago's Olympic bid and gambling $500 million in local tax dollars that, even if his Olympic dream comes true, Chicago can host the 2016 Summer Games without losing money.

"The Olympic and Paralympic movement is bigger than Mayor Daley. It's bigger than anything else. ... I've been to Beijing and Athens and all these other cities that have had it. This is something you want to have for the city of Chicago," Daley said Friday as International Olympic Committee evaluation team members were settling in for their final site visit here before selecting a host city in October.

"This is not about the people now. This is about 2016 -- all the infrastructure, all the improvements you can do, spent by the federal government. It's amazing how much money they spend. Up-to-date security as well as public transportation and other things. This is an opportunity. That's why I'm excited about it. The legacy that will last you forever -- the things we're gonna do for the children of Chicago [and] another generation."

The mayor can only hope that this Olympic-size gamble turns out better than his earlier mega-projects.
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