Thanks for nothing | Bleader

Friday, August 31, 2007

Thanks for nothing

Posted By on 08.31.07 at 12:04 PM

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Continuing his relentless campaign to win the hearts and minds of local Chicagoans for the 2016 Olympics, Mayor Daley showed up at Wednesday's opening of the Attack Training Center, a "$15 million state-of-the-art athletic facility" at 2641 W. Harrison.

"This will be a very special place for young amateurs to come together and get the training necessary," Daley said at the opening."This is very important for our [Olympic]s bid. You need a facility like this."

According to the Sun-Times, "the center was build on city-owned industrial land sold to the developer at a bargain price."

But even though the public is subsidizing the facility, it's not a public facility--it's a private operation. Yes, its owner, noted trainer Tim Grover, promises to make it available at times to local students. And, yes, an argument can be made that it's beneficial to use tax dollars to put vacant land back on the tax rolls.

But let's not kid ourselves. As wonderful as this training center might be, it's hardly an attempt to rectify inequities that plague sports and recreation in Chicago.

Once again the city's forcing taxpayers to fund athletic facilities that will have almost no benefit for ordinary citizens. The city is planning to spend hundreds of millions (if not billions) of dollars on the games, while there is still no -- not a one -- indoor running track for its public schools. Most schools scrounge for land to play their soccer games, while the Park District is turning over prime land in Lincoln Park so the Latin School, one of the most expensive private schools in the area, can build a soccer field. (The Latin School will be guaranteed use of the field during prime hours). The proposal to build an Olympic stadium in Washington Park only means that sometime in the next few years, hundreds of local softball, baseball, and tennis players will have to find somewhere else to play as their park becomes a construction zone. And Daley is planning to use Park District money to build an aquatics center in Douglas that will have no walls, so it will be useless for at least eight months a year after the Olympics leaves.

Despite Daley's public relations campaign, the essential point regarding the Olympics remains the same: Chicagoans will get nothing from the games except the bill.

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