In theory, one of the lessons from the financial crisis was that taxpayers should not be on the hook for the reckless actions of others. With that in mind, Chicago politicians voted unanimously today to hand the bill for any cost overruns associated with the 2016 Olympics to its residents, should the Windy City win the bid. As overspending for host cities has almost become an Olympic sport itself, Mayor Richard Daley would rather take his chances on being able to control construction costs in Chicago than be left behind in the hunt for the games.
The 49-0 vote also put an end to a rare moment of vocal council dissent this summer when Daley promised IOC officials the city would give a blanket backing against any Olympic shortfalls.
The mayor previously had taken a hard line against agreeing to such a provision, suggesting that the city's liability would be limited to $500 million. But Daley's switch came after Chicago was the only one of the four finalists without a full government guarantee.
Based on this, it appears there's another lesson from the crisis that has yet to be learned. While people in Montreal undoubtedly enjoyed reliving those memorable weeks in the summer of '76 for the 30 years they were paying for Olympic Stadium, taxpayers in Chicago may not be so interested in funding short term gains in the long term.