Soldier Field Could Be Olympic Stumbling Block: Stadium Would Not Accomodate Certain Events - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Soldier Field Could Be Olympic Stumbling Block: Stadium Would Not Accomodate Certain Events

(CBS) CHICAGO Chicago is one of five cities in the running to host the 2016 games.

On Wednesday, the committee was in Chicago to check out the site first hand.

CBS 2's Derrick Blakley reports that despite the enthusiasm, Chicago does have some shortcomings when it comes to hosting such a big event.

The mayor has Olympic dreams for the City of Chicago , but there's a lot that would have to happen to prepare for the games that are only 10 years away.

Chicago has much to offer as an Olympics host, including 100,000 hotel rooms, 9,000 restaurantsand world-class transportation.

But it doesn't have an 80,000 seat stadium, and that has critics saying once again that the new Soldier Field was a huge, expensive mistake.

"Had the mayor and the Bears not been so stubborn, we could have been in a much better position with respect to something for 2016," said University of Chicago economist Allen Sanderson.

Even after a $700 million update, Soldier Field is too small for Olympic opening and closing ceremonies or track and field events. Those events require an 80,000 seat stadium. Building one, like Athens did for 2004, could cost up to $1 billion.

"If you can't figure out a way to answer that problem, that's good for the city and the region. It doesn't make sense to proceed to the rest of the details," said Mary Sue Barrett with the Metropolitan Planning Council .

Mayor Daley proposed moving track and field to Champaign-Urbana or Madison , Wisc.

But U.S. Olympic boss Peter Uberroth has been quoted saying an Olympic-sized stadium must be committed to, or built, before any city gets the bid.

So who will pay? And where would it go? No one's saying.

"Very, very early stage in the process," Daley said.

But sports economist Allen Sanderson says both the mayor and the Bears have to eat crow.

"Swallow some pride and say we made a mistake. We have to tear down Soldier Field and build something in its place," Sanderson said.

That, of course, would be a monumental about-face.

The other big stumbling block is making sure the city doesn't take a financial bath.

This time around, if the city makes a bid for the games, the business community will foot the bill.

But if Chicago wins it, then it's the taxpayers' turn.

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