Q&A with Chicago 2016 bid leader Patrick Ryan
BERLIN (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee will elect the winning bid for the 2016 Olympics on October 2. Chicago, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid are bidding.
Herewith a Q&A with Chicago 2016 bid chief Patrick Ryan.
REUTERS: Why should your city be awarded the 2016 Olympics?
RYAN: "Chicago would produce an extraordinary Games experience -- for athletes and spectators alike -- in a spectacular setting in the center of the city. It has a solid and thoroughly vetted budget and financial plan that includes a full government guarantee.
"It would generate lasting legacies for youth and Chicago residents that would pay dividends for generations to come.
"Chicago has city, state and federal government support that stretches from Chicago across the U.S. to the White House."
REUTERS: What is the strength of your bid and what would you want to improve if you had more time?
RYAN: "The vast majority of the Games venues would be in the heart of the city, in a series of historic parks set on the Lake Michigan shoreline.
"Some of the best things the city has to offer lie within the compact Games footprint, walking distance from venues: world-class museums and cultural institutions; gourmet restaurants and top-quality hotels and shopping; landmark architecture and sculpted gardens; and a host of entertainment venues, including renowned blues and jazz clubs.
"Because of the central location of the Olympic Village, 90 percent of athletes would be within 15 minutes of their competition venues."
REUTERS: Given that some recent Games have left behind little in terms of legacy, what would the legacy be for your city and the IOC, should it win the Games?
RYAN: "The Olympic Village will be built whether or not Chicago wins the Games and is expected to spur the regeneration of nearby areas. At least 30 percent of the units will be set aside for moderate-income purchasers and renters.
"Venue legacies would include multi-sport arenas for youth that could be used to host future international competitions in Washington Park and in Douglas Park; a new hockey complex in Jackson Park; a new tennis center in Lincoln Park; and new sailing center and rowing and canoe facilities on the Lake Michigan shoreline.
"Four city parks also would get new 50-meter pools. The legacy facilities are designed to be used, and used heavily, after the Games."
REUTERS: With bids forced to follow a strict set of IOC guidelines and criteria, what is the innovative aspect of your proposal that makes it unique?
RYAN: "First, the plan is based on the recommendations of the IOC's Olympic Games Study Commission, which calls for the use of temporary venues where community needs don't justify the construction of new venues.
"As a result, the Chicago plan makes extensive use of temporary venues -- 13 -- and proposes only five new permanent venues, all adapted post-Games for significant community use.
"Second, the Games are set in the very heart of downtown Chicago. This is ... an innovation that allows Chicago to place its competition and celebration sites in the midst of the city's grand array of cultural institutions, shopping, dining and hospitality, creating a new kind of Olympic experience that greatly reduces the amount of time guests spend in transit.
"For the athletes, this means 90 percent of their venues and training sites are within 15 minutes of the village.
"Finally, the alignment of political support for the Games is unprecedented. Never has a sitting U.S. President been so personally involved in an Olympic bid campaign or so committed to the success of the Games.
"With City Council's unanimous vote to authorize the signing of the Host City Contract, Chicago offers full financial guarantees for the Games."
REUTERS: How is your Games budget structured and what sort of guarantees are you offering the IOC?
RYAN: "Organizing Committee expenses are projected at $3.8 billion. Planned expenses total $3.3 billion, with provision for an additional $450 million in contingency.
"Non-Organizing Committee expenses-including the Olympic Village and permanent venue construction costs-are about $1 billion.
"More than $1.4 billion in private insurance policies will protect against risks outside the Organizing Committee's control. In a unanimous vote, Chicago's City Council has approved a complete government guarantee against operating loss."
REUTERS: What impact has the financial crisis had on your plans and do you see it affecting the vote?
RYAN: "Chicago's plan, based on conservative assumptions and projections, takes into account the recessionary pressures of the marketplace.
"For example, historic sponsorship spending for the Games has grown at an average annual rate of 6 percent, but Chicago used a 4 percent growth rate in its estimates.
"Similarly, licensing revenue has grown at an average yearly rate of 4.5 percent over the last six Games. Chicago's budget assumed only a 1.8 percent growth.
"Under Chicago's plan, 65 percent of venues are already in place. Only 24 percent of construction would be permanent, something that significantly reduces risk on cost and delivery.
"The Olympic Village will be built by multiple teams of private developers to help ensure on-time, on-budget delivery."
REUTERS: In terms of major venue construction, what still needs to be built and what is already existing?
RYAN: "The single biggest construction project is the roughly $1 billion Olympic Village. The City of Chicago has closed on the purchase of the 38-acre Village site. Demolition work on existing buildings on the site has begun in preparation for sale of the land to private development teams that will proceed with construction.
"The AFL-CIO investment trusts and the labor-owned Union Labor Life Insurance Co. have signed a letter of commitment to provide a combined $500 million in financing for the Village.
"Other major facilities that must be constructed include the Olympic Stadium, Olympic Aquatics Center and Olympic Velodrome.
"Existing facilities are extensive. They include McCormick Place, one of the largest convention and meeting complexes in the world; the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls professional basketball team and the Chicago Blackhawks ice hockey team; Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears American football team; and the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion, home to college basketball and other events."
REUTERS: How much do you believe sponsors/broadcasters can influence the 2016 vote as major deals (including U.S. broadcasting rights and new TOP sponsors) are still pending?
RYAN: "Recent Olympic and Paralympic Games in the U.S. have been financially successful for the Olympic Movement and we're certain that the Games in Chicago would be as well.
"The financial health of the Movement is obviously a factor, but voters will be selecting the city that best serves the Olympic Movement as a whole."
REUTERS: What political support will you have on-site in Copenhagen?
RYAN: "Chicago's delegation in Copenhagen will include prominent business and civic leaders, Olympians and Paralympians, top USOC officials and Mayor Richard Daley.
"First Lady Michelle Obama will lead the delegation. She will be accompanied by Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama and chair of the White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic and Youth Sport."
(Compiled by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)
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