No matter where you are, the Olympic Games are a thrill. Your town may have a chance to host Olympic team trials, like Eugene, Oregon (aka TrackTown USA) did this past summer. You may happen to get a visit from a bonafide athletic super star at the airport. Or you may just lose out on the chance to host the iconic Games.
Even though Chicago ultimately lost the bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games, the city got a little taste of Olympic glory when gold medal gymnast Simone Biles recently graced O’Hare International Airport with her presence. The 4′ 8″ 19-year old was there to do a promotion for her sponsor United Airlines. Gracious and accommodating, Biles posed for selfies, assisted youngsters with their gymnastic tricks, and even tried her hand at being a flight attendant on an Ohio-bound flight.
The most excited bystanders were the kids, who were nearly spellbound by the Olympian. Clearly inspired and awestruck, kids lined up to take photos and to show Biles their handstands.
The Olympic winner is currently on tour with the U.S. women’s gymnastics team as part of the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions. She told reporters that she’s having a blast. “We’ve been traveling a lot, which is super fun because you’re on tour with your best friends.” She stated that she plans to take some time off before heading back into training.
But another Chicagoan tie to the Olympics wasn’t as triumphant as Simone Biles. The site intended to be used as Chicago’s Olympic Village, if the city had won the bid to host, currently stands empty. After a hospital closed on the site in 2008, former Chicago mayor Richard Daley purchased the land for $85 million. There were talks about turning the spot into the Obama presidential library, but it was ultimately decided that the library be located in Jackson Park on the south side of Chicago.
The city is now seeking redevelopment proposals for the 49-acre site, located in the aptly named Bronzeville neighborhood. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office stated that proposals are being accepted starting this month for a mixed-use development plan. The city will consider the site for commercial, residential, recreational, and institutional use, and they hope to select a developer by spring.