This post starts a series that will look at which U.S. cities would be perfect hosts for the Olympics.
Chicago was actually supposed to host the 1904 Olympics, but back then the World’s Fair was so powerful that organizers forced Olympic founder Pierre de Coubertin to move the Games to St. Louis to coincide with their event. The city was snubbed again 105 years later when it finished fourth in its bid to host the 2016 Games, despite being a heavy favorite. It probably had more to do with the U.S. having hosted eight Olympics, as opposed to Latin America’s zero, but Chicago remains arguably the perfect city to host the Summer Games.
Infrastructure: Chicago has two airports, a decent-to-good public transit system, and enough hotels to house anyone and everyone interested in attending. Its seven major professional sports franchises (yes, we include the WNBA’s Chicago Sky) and numerous colleges mean there are enough established venues to host basketball, soccer, gymnastics, handball, and pretty much anything else.
Sports culture: Chicago is a city full of people who love sports, even if their most adored team recently passed the 100 year threshold of failure and its fans believe this has more to do with a goat than just being terrible at baseball. But, rain or shine, they support the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, and White Sox, and would provide an incredible atmosphere for American and international Olympians.
Weather: While Chicago’s eight-month winters are brutal beyond words (and single-handedly the reason we don’t live there), the weather borders on unbeatable from June through September (second only to San Diego). Thankfully those are the exact months the Summer Olympics occur. You might have some humidity and a bad cold-front now and again, but that’s true anywhere.
Nightlife: Chicago has everything you’re looking for when it comes to going out on the town, with a nightlife concentrated to a couple great areas. You can find excellent restaurants, clubs, and bars downtown, or you can head to Wrigleyville, which is one of the best spots in the country for bar crawling and late night gorging. Also, the spinach deep dish at Gino’s East is the best pizza on the planet.
Biggest drawback: Where do you put Olympic Park? No seriously, look at a map of the city and tell us where you put the Park, the Athletes Village, the stadium… I’m very interested.
Intangibles: Aside from some of the best museums, restaurants, and entertainment available for those looking to explore the city beyond the Games — as well as a lakefront perfect for water sports — Chicago has one thing going for it that no other city does: Medinah Country Club. It’s a championship course that would have been a perfect place for golf to return to the Olympics for the first time since (wait for it) the 1904 St. Louis Games. Thanks a lot, Rio.