THE BLOG
08/13/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Chicago Games: Benefits Far Outweigh the Risks

Thousands of people from across Chicago have joined together to support Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, because they know what it could mean for the future of our city.

The Games' potential legacy for kids -- in terms of programs and in upgraded or new neighborhood athletic facilities -- is unmatched. Hosting the Games would allow us to continue a sports program for children that we have begun in Chicago and are working to export to other U.S. cities. Chicago 2016 and World Sport Chicago have already exposed more than 30,000 Chicago youth, through clinics and other events, to new sports and long-term programs that help them stay active and learn the life values that sport teaches--respect for the rules, respect for competition, and self-respect. Through these efforts we are hoping to create solutions not only for Chicago's young people but for children and teens across our country and around the globe.

Locally, facilities such as the Olympic Stadium in Washington Park would be reconfigured after the Games into a new amphitheater for multi-sport activities, concerts and other entertainment. A warm-up pool would remain as a permanent aquatics facility, and the Washington Park Armory could be transformed into a multisport facility to support these youth legacy programs.

I can't say often enough how strong our financial plan is--and how highly unlikely it is that the taxpayers of Chicago would be put at risk. We cannot let naysayers who focus only on the perceived "risk" of participation dissuade us from pursuing a project with so many potential benefits for Chicago's residents. I feel, and many agree, the greatest risk we face is not taking advantage of this unique opportunity to engage and enrich Chicago's children by hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games.