Today: Last Update:

  • ATR Exclusive: Chicago Edges Los Angeles in Power Index of U.S. Olympic Bids


    Chicago 2016 plans to build a temporary Olympic Stadium in a park on on the city’s south side.  

    Chicago Edges Los Angeles in U.S. 2016 Power Index

    With two weeks to go before the U.S. Olympic Committee decides between Chicago and Los Angeles as the U.S. nominee for the 2016 Olympics, the Around the Rings Olympic Bid Power Index gives the advantage to Chicago.

    The USOC Board of Directors meets in Washington, D.C. April 14 to make its 2016 choice.

    The index rates Chicago 71, Los Angeles 68. It’s middling range for the 110 point index, which surveys the strengths and weaknesses of the bids against 11 criteria. Each category is scored from 1 to 10, the higher the better.

    The 2016 survey is based on multiple visits by ATR to each city, events surrounding the bids as well as scrutiny of the bid materials from each.

    Chicago leads in four of the 11 categories, mostly by a single point. Los Angeles leads one, with the rest of the categories tied.

    2016 POWER INDEX FOR U.S. CITIES - March 27, 2007
    Chicago  Los Angeles 
    Accommodation 7 7
    Ambience 7 7
    Bid Operation 7 7
    Games Cost 5 7
    Last Games 6 6
    Legacy 7 5
    Marketing 5 5
    Public Support 7 6
    Security 6 6
    Transportation 7 6
    Venue Plans  7 6
    POWER INDEX  71 68

    Chicago vs. Los Angeles, Category by Category

    Accommodation – Both cities score a 7 for the immense inventory and quality of hotels and other accommodations. Top quality rooms can be expensive in both cities. Restaurant and dining options in both cities are among the best in the world at all price points.

    Ambiance – A tie at 7 between two interesting destinations that offer a decidedly different atmosphere. The Chicago plan calls for most events to be close to the center of the city and the Lake Michigan shoreline, where public gathering places would be located. Los Angeles offers its incredible setting on the Pacific with a world of attractions and diversions. Both include diverse populations: Los Angeles a mirror of Latin America and Asia, Chicago famed for its Greek, Polish and Irish heritage.

    Bid Operation – The two cities tie with 7, both running smooth campaigns for the U.S. nomination since the race began last May. Leadership has been stable, free of controversy. Run on lean staffs so far, the cities have avoided big splurges on staff or other expenses.

    The Olympic Village for LA 2016 is already constructed, using student housing at UCLA. (ATR)  

    Both handled the visits of the USOC evaluation commission earlier this month without any problems. Chicago, which is making claims of a $500 million surplus from the Games, will have to tone-down that projection for the bid to be accepted on the international stage.

    Games Cost – Los Angeles, scoring a 7 in this category, has minimal construction costs with only one new permanent venue, a shooting center. Chicago scores a 5 in the costs category, with comparatively more to build, including a temporary Olympic Stadium and a number of venues. Chicago is rebuilding its main freeway and is working on expansion of O’Hare Airport, but no big projects hinge on the Olympics. Los Angeles infrastructure is likewise in good shape, with some mass transit projects ahead, such as work at LAX, but no Olympic Games transformations are in the cards.

    Last Games & Experience – All things being equal, the novelty of a first Olympics in Chicago might sell more easily internationally than a third time for Los Angeles. On the other hand, IOC members informally polled by ATR who like Los Angeles mention the city’s Olympic resume as important to them. Both score a 6.

    Legacy – Chicago edges Los Angeles 7 to 6 in this category. Chicago offers a bricks and mortar legacy from new venues as well as the promise of building interest in the American Midwest for Olympic sports. Los Angeles, which already has a foundation funded with the surplus from the 1984 Games, appears to be at a loss clearly explaining what legacy a 2016 Games would leave.

    Marketing – For the creative juices that are supposed to flow like rivers in both Chicago and Los Angeles, there seems to be little spark and imagination behind the marketing of either bid at the level needed for a winning international campaign. Both cities score in the doldrums, tied at 5.

    Public Support – Chicago leads Los Angeles 7 to 6, a score that reflects passage by the city council of a financial guarantee just days after the USOC told Chicago one was needed. Media interest in Chicago is noticeably higher for the bid than in Los Angeles. A fund raiser for the Chicago bid earlier this month took in $9 million in pledges.

    Security – Both cities have police, fire and emergency services of world-class standards. The big unknowns (with low probability) include the potential for terrorism strikes in both cities and for Los Angeles, earthquakes. The two cities tie at 6.

    Transportation – A more compact venue plan and much more extensive use of public transit in Chicago gives it an edge over Los Angeles. Athletes will have to travel further to their venues from the Olympic Village at UCLA in west Los Angeles than they will from Chicago’s downtown village. Los Angeles has made great strides in public transit since the 1984 Games, but long stretches of freeways traveled by bus will be part of the game for an LA 2016 Olympics. Los Angeles is served by multiple airports, in addition to LAX as an international gateway.

    Venue Plans – Chicago and its compact plan for the Games tops Los Angeles, 7 to 6 in the venue category, even though the bid from Illinois has much more to build. The concept of a first-ever temporary stadium that’s proposed for Chicago is intriguing. Los Angeles offers some tried-and-true venues, such as Staples Center, Pawley Pavillion and the Home Depot Center, but the venue map show locations scattered across the Los Angeles area, some of them 70 miles or more away from the Olympic Village. Instead of one Olympic Village, Los Angeles may need to consider sub-villages to mitigate athlete travel.

    Categories Explained

    Accommodation: Quantity, quality

    Ambience: Is the city comfortable, tourist-friendly, a pleasure to visit?

    Bid Operation: Leadership, strategy and public relations

    Games Cost and Finance: The projected bill for operating the Olympics and the infrastructure needed, unusual finance risks. Higher scores indicate lower costs.

    Last Games in the Country: Years since last summer or winter Olympics. Higher the score, the longer since the games. Some credit could be given for recent Olympic bids.

    Legacy: Impact of the Olympics in a city; sustainable venues

    Marketing: The size and impact of marketing programs

    Government & Public Support: The commitment of government and populace for a Games

    Security: Reputation and quality of security, perceptions of risk

    Transportation: Ease of travel, multiple transport options, airports, quality of public transit, taxis

    Your best source of news about the race for the 2016 Olympics is, for subscribers only.