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Potential suburban 2016 Olympic winners and losers
By Ted Cox and Marni Pyke | Daily Herald Staff

The Tempel Farms near Wadsworth could get a lot more attention if Chicago lands the 2016 Olympics.

 

Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

Riders wait for a train in Grayslake. Commuters will share space with Olympic spectators during the 2016 Games if Chicago wins the bid.

 

John Starks | Staff Photographer

A Metra train in Grayslake.

 

Vince Pierri | Staff Photographer

Traffic across the Chicago region's highways, including I-90 westbound, is expected to sharply increase during the 2016 Games if Chicago gets the bid to host the competitions.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

The regional el system, such as the routes from the Cumberland Road station to Sox park on Chicago's South Side, is expected to see improvements if Chicago gets the 2016 Olympics.

 

Mark Black | Staff Photographer

The Cumberland CTA station.

 

Mark Black | Staff Photographer

The Westin hotel at Yorktown Center in Lombard.

 

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Published: 9/27/2009 12:01 AM | Updated: 9/27/2009 11:47 AM

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Chicago will be celebrating if the city gets the 2016 Summer Olympics when the host site is selected on Friday, but reaction figures to be a bit more mixed in the suburbs.

Yes, suburban residents will be subject to the same proud mania - and the chance to see the Olympics (at a price). But while some suburbs will greatly benefit, others will bear the brunt of the inconvenience.

Here's a quick spin around the city from the North Shore to the Indiana border to see the probable winners and losers should Chicago play host to the Summer Games in seven years.

Winner: Tempel Farms. The renowned lipizzans will be jumping for joy over the huge publicity boost they'll get when Old Mill Creek, near Wadsworth, prepares to play host to the equestrian events with a new 18,000-seat stadium and a cross-country course. Cabdrivers figure to benefit as well, as the nearest Metra stops are in Zion, Antioch and Lake Villa.

Loser: North Shore commuters figure to pay the price with congestion on I-94. Not that the equestrian events figure to be such a big draw, but with 18,000 seats, that's still a lot of cars for people willing to see any Olympic event.

Winner: West-suburban hotels. West-Side events are set to be held at the United Center and Douglas Park. These will be big draws, too, such as basketball at the United Center.

Loser: West-suburban commuters. Big draws will mean big congestion on the Eisenhower, and it's not as if there's a lot of room for expansion in the Ike roadbed even with seven years to work on it.

Winner: Evanston. Northwestern University will be the site of modern pentathlon. So, hey, for a few days it will be a football Saturday on a daily basis for the college campus.

Loser: Crystal Lake. The village's bid to hold the rowing events, as in the 2006 Gay Games, got left at the shore when Chicago planned to take the rowing events, now set for the lakefront, despite IOC concerns about wind and waves.

Winner: Licensed ticket scalpers. There figures to be a brisk business in tickets for years beginning whenever they go on sale.

Loser: Taxpayers. Yes, Chicago 2016 plans to run the games without losing money. But the long-term government investment figures to be large, and the closer one is to the city - especially Cook County - the more likely you'll be footing at least part of the bill. And guess who pays for promised federal funding?

Winner: Homeowners. With people flooding into the region, some suburban residents might be able to rent out their homes to European millionaires for the Games and use the proceeds to go on vacation.

Loser: Homeowners. Instead of European millionaires, we end up playing host to hordes of long-lost cousins who have tickets but don't want to pay for a hotel.

Winner: Village of Bensenville? Chicago promises to complete the controversial expansion of O'Hare International Airport that involves taking a chunk of Bensenville by 2016. Bensenville could negotiate jobs and improved infrastructure in exchange for resolving this long battle.

Loser: Lawyers who've earned a fortune fighting O'Hare modernization.

Winner: South-suburban Metra Electric Line commuters. Shooting events are set for the campus of Governors State University. With Chicago 2016 planners boasting that "this site will be easily accessible from the Olympic Village and downtown Chicago," that means service on the old Illinois Central Electric Line ending in University Park is going to have to be beefed up.

Loser: Governors State students, who will feel a lot more cramped.

Winner: Olympic Lanes users. Special lanes on the Kennedy, I-55, Tri-State Tollway, Lake Shore Drive and certain arterials will be designated for athletes, express buses and other specific groups.

Loser: The rest of us. Crawling along the Kennedy watching the Olympic Lanes traffic slalom past could dim anyone's torch.

Winner: Spectators. Public transit should be a dream with express buses and borrowed passenger rail cars to whisk ticketholders around to various venues.

Loser: The rest of us. Olympic plans show no bold ideas to transform the aging, at-capacity public transit system. Once the 16 days of glory end, expect the same old Metra trains.

Winner: The environment. Spectators and workers at the Olympics won't be able to drive to venues. Instead, everyone is expected to take public transit and express buses will ferry people to strategic Metra stations, parking lots and Olympic sites.

Loser: Commuters. Expect packed buses and trains.

Winner: Commuters. Being squished like sardines is a good way to learn new languages.

Winner: Volunteers. Is this cool or what? Both Chicagoans and suburbanites are needed. Duties range from water distribution to greeting people to translating. For info, visit chicago2016.org.

Loser: No losers here, except possibly the friends who may tire of hearing about you busting a move as Scarf Waver No. 94 during opening ceremonies.