February 6, 2009

UIC commits facilities to Olympics; U of C in discussions

Chicago universities are beginning to pledge their facilities in support of the city’s 2016 Olympic bid.

The University of Illinois–Chicago (UIC) offered its facilities this week, and the University of Chicago has begun discussing offering its own.

UIC trustees offered use of five venues, including indoor and outdoor athletic centers and fields, to host events including boxing and Paralympic volleyball.

The U of C has also begun preliminary talks with Chicago 2016, the committee organizing the bid, about the use of its facilities for training and health care purposes.

Chicago 2016’s early bid proposed a number of venues surrounding the U of C, including a new stadium in Washington Park and a potential marathon course down the Midway. Other sites proposed include an Olympic Village across from McCormick Place and the use of Lake Michigan for water events.

U of C spokesman Bob Rosenberg said that the University is in favor of Chicago hosting the 2016 Olympics, but that it had certain interests that would be up for discussion.

“The prospect of having the Olympics around is a pretty exciting one,” he said. “I think there would be challenges and opportunities, and I think we would have to address both of them.” He compared the prospect of the Olympics to the effect President Barack Obama’s candidacy had on Hyde Park.

The University has participated in community input meetings but has not actively recruited community concerns about the Olympics. “We see ourselves as a partner and a participant in these things,” Rosenberg said.

Because the Olympics would take place in July and August, the use of athletic facilities at universities will not create as large an impact on students.

Chicago is one of four cities still in the running, along with Madrid, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro. The International Olympic Committee will make its decision in October.