What If Chicago Had Hosted The Olympic Summer Games?

Aug 19, 2016

Kurt Summers helped steer Chicago's failed bid for the Olympics.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Illinois’ and Chicago’ precarious financial situations have some residents relieved the city was not successful in its attempt to host the latest Olympics games.

But not Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers.

Seven years ago, he was Chief of Staff for Chicago’s bid. Summers says he grew up, and still lives, on the South Side. He says the Olympics would have been phenomenal and transformative for parts of the city.

"It would have been a catalytic event that would have changed forever in a positive way the outcomes for neighborhoods like the one I grew up in," he said. "You know, I grew up next to Washington Park, which would be hosting track and field. Hosting swimming. Hosting opening and closing games. These are the events that attack the most people in the Olympics. And where I think the greatest economic opportunity would be.”

Summers says instead those areas have vacant lots, high unemployment and drug and gang activity. Critics say those events are too fleeting, and would have saddled the city and state with unbridled debt.

Summers has been floated as a candidate for higher office including mayor and governor.

The Olympics are ending Sunday in Rio de Janeiro.