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The Mechanics
« The Governor's Next Appointment Preckwinkle for Cook County Board »

City Council Wed Jan 14 2009

Chicago's Olympic TIF

IT'S OFFICIAL. If Chicago gets the 2016 Summer Olympics, portions of the project will be paid for with Tax Increment Finance (TIF) money, of an unspecified amount. Dedicated to covering infrastructure improvements, the TIF will come out of the City's revenue -- on top of a $500 million guarantee to the International Olympic Committee for potential cost overruns.

Chicagoans will also be footing the bill for an estimated $45 million in extra police patrols, street cleaning and other municipal services. However, one would have to conclude that this is a cruel underestimation given that the city of London has projected $2 billion for just the security at their 2012 Summer Olympics.

And all of this passed unanimously -- without any debate or discussion. Judging by the silence in the room it seems that this deal was put to bed a long time ago. Certainly, Daley and Chicago 2016 knew all along that a portion of the Olympics would be funded with a TIF. They just chose to be tightlipped about the deal because it would have looked bad to put forward the $87 million Michael Reese deal or the TIF this past fall -- when the city was facing a budget gap of over $600 million.

It also turns out that the 500-page bid book that is to be presented to the International Olympic Committee in February is already at the printers. As the Chicago Tribune reported yesterday, "Asked after the meeting why aldermen were voting on something that was already in print," Chicago 2016 president Lori Healy said pieces of the document "were withheld in anticipation of this meeting."

Healey also told the Chicago Sun-Times that tapping into the $500 million guarantee is "highly unlikely" and "virtually impossible." But how Healey can be so confident about the funding of the Olympics when -- to name just one of the city's behind-schedule and over-budget construction projects -- the CTA "super-station" at Block 37 sits sealed off underground, in need of another $100 million?

But what should really worry Chicagoans are the events unfolding in Vancouver, host of the 2010 Winter Olympics. As the Chicago Olympic bid continues to go forward, the 2010 Olympic Village could be coming to a complete halt. It was announced just last week that the people of Vancouver are now on the hook for the total cost of the project.

According to the Vancouver Sun, "The project's main U.S. financier, Wall Street's formidable Fortress Investment Group, has toughened conditions for accessing its loan. Fortress is asking the City of Vancouver to guarantee most of the $750 million loan it has offered to build the $1.2 billion Olympic Village." In short, the 2010 Olympic Village could bankrupt Vancouver.

Read more about the Vancouver debacle here.

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Can't wait / January 14, 2009 11:48 AM

Maybe once our "progressive" population figure out that the costs of their great ideas have to come from somewhere, they will resort to responsible management.

Probably not, because you know damn well the Mr. Hope and Change is going to make sure that the Olympics are held here and then we are going to get fucked by the special interests and horrid leadership.

Sarah / January 17, 2009 2:27 PM

I'm glad to see coverage of this. TIFs have been sytematically used to gentrify the city neighborhood after neighborhood; and I hope more people begin to understand that southside gentrification/ethnic cleansing will go hand in hand with any Olympic proposal. The fact that this all occurs with our tax dollars, without any real opportunity for debate or discussion is adding insult to injury.

Wanderlei Jardine / August 13, 2009 2:33 PM

"In short, the 2010 Olympic Village could bankrupt Vancouver." This is sad, because there is no guarantee that the Olympic condos will sell at high enough prices to recoup the original investment fees. Real-estate in Vancouver is sagging heavily, with an almost 30% drop so far since last year.

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