Olympics Puts Taxpayers On the Hook


Without liability protection, a Chicago 2016 Olympics will put Illinois taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars, according to the president of Illinois’ largest taxpayer organization.

“Chicago submitted its bid details to the International Olympic Committee in February ballyhooing its financial strength, with organizers saying they have at least a 1 billion dollar safety net if the games exceed the estimated $4.8 billion price tag. They didn’t mention that they were putting Illinois taxpayers at risk for many billions of dollars,” said Jim Tobin, President of National Taxpayers United of Illinois (NTUI).
“Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is pushing hard for the 2016 games and could end up pushing Illinois taxpayers over a cliff. He has stated that he will sign the standard Olympic host city contract, which includes the assumption of unlimited financial liability for the games.”
“The most recent Olympics held in the U.S., Salt Lake City 2002, had actual costs 2.5 times the original budget. If Chicago matches that, the $4.8 billion estimate for the games becomes a $12 billion liability. Revenues are projected at $5.3 billion. Even if all revenue targets are achieved, taxpayers would be responsible for the $6.7 billion difference.”
“Of course, it could be worse. Another of Mayor Daley’s favored projects, Millennium Park, ran more than 3 times budget ($150 million vs. $475 million). With a similar cost overrun for the Olympics, taxpayers would be on the hook for nearly $10 billion.”
“Of course, it could be much worse. The 1976 Montreal Olympics closed out at 11.9 times the original budget of $124 million. The final cost, $1.47 billion, wasn’t paid off until 2006—30 years later. It’s being reported that both Vancouver (2010) and London (2012) may come in at 10 times their original estimates. Are we prepared to pay $40 billion for these games?”
“Together, legislators in Chicago and Springfield have already guaranteed $750 million of taxpayer backing for the Chicago bid. The least they can do is pass legislation which specifically prohibits any additional taxpayer liability. If Chicago cannot win an Olympic bid without strong protection for taxpayers, good riddance,” Tobin concluded.  “Unlimited financial liability is a risk that taxpayers can’t afford to take.”

1 Response

  1. Joe Values says:

    Illinois Taxpayers outside of Cook County, might be spared, but imagine the long-term pain to thrust upon the Cook County residents. As much as the revenue from the Olympics would be great, my fear the costs will far exceed the estimated revenue, and Cook County might as well declare bankruptcy.
    I have never seen a full blown tax revolt by ordinary citizens, but, I still might in my life time. Citizens voting with their feet is the more likely result.

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