Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Federal Funding for the Olympics

Jack G recently directed us to this old but relevant article from the New York Times circa 1999. The article talks about federal spending associated with the Olympics. Obviously this is relevant for us to consider as Chicago's bid for the 2016 games progresses.

From what we've read, the federal government is on tap to pay for the security if the games come to Chicago. This no doubt will be a lot of money given the size of Chicago and awareness of security post 9-11. The story states that the most recent American games in Salt Lake City, the first after 9-11, cost the federal government upwards of $200 million. Compare that with the '96 Atlanta games ($92 million for security) and the '84 Los Angeles games ($68 million) and it's easy to assume that the cost of security for Chicago could potentially be twice as much as the Salt Lake City games.

However, the biggest federal expense might come from new infrastructure projects that are sped up due to the Olympics. Olympic loyalists argue that this would happen eventually, but given the stage the Olympics provide enables these projects to be greenlighted quicker.

Our guess is that long term CTA, Metra and highway projects that are on the table but currently 'unfunded' could fall into this category. We hope so, because right now the current Olympic transportation plan for Chicago is pretty unimpressive.

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