Will There be a Roar over 2016?

In approximately two hours, the world will learn whether Chicago (or Rio, Tokyo or Madrid) will win the bid to host the 2016 Olympic Summer Games. Yesterday, I was in the Loop and strolled through the Daley Center (our “town square”) and observed the plaza being set up for the public to watch the results on some kind of jumbotron.

Frankly, there was no sense of excitement, perhaps because the Daley Center hosts a Thursday Farmer’s Market and people were more interested in securing what may be the last good sweet corn of the season. But workers were out in full force, setting up barricades and moving in equipment, seating and other stuff. The decision to put my fair city on the world stage seven or so years from now didn’t interfere with what can be considered regular daily life activities.

Regardless of the outcome — and I hope the city gets the bid — the Olympic bid process generated tremendous awareness for what my home town is all about. Yes, we have political corruption, potholes, losing baseball teams (2005 Sox are an exception) and some nasty winter weather. But Chicagoans and the city itself are resilient, adaptable and progressive. We are steady. From a public relations perspective, the city 2016 team minimized and mitigated Chicago’s faults and accentuated its merits.

The explosion of media coverage surrounding the Olympic bid enhanced our reputation as a place where big things can get done, and done well. By now, the Daley Center is probably filling up, office workers are preparing to huddle around the break room TV and many other people here and elsewhere will be watching at home.

One criticism over Chicago’s bid centers on whether there was enough support from the citizenry. Perhaps not, but then, this is a city of neighborhoods where the concern of the week is a backed up sewer. Chicagoans will rally if we get the bid.

I’m hoping there will be a collective roar across the city later this morning.

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