Perhaps we should look at Atlanta's example:
Thirteen years later, the financial legacy of the Olympics in Atlanta is harder to detect. Like many major cities, Atlanta has fallen victim to the recession, forced to lay off teachers and city workers while slashing services. The City Council recently voted to raise property taxes to cover a $56 million budget deficit.
Winning the Olympic bid catapulted Atlanta into the big leagues, giving it name recognition around the globe. Atlanta's $1.7 billion private-funded investment in hosting the games helped revitalize its sluggish downtown and poured $5 billion into the metropolitan area's economy during the next decade, according to the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.
Atlanta's cost was less than half of the $4.8 billion Chicago has estimated it will need to raise if the city is awarded the 2016 Olympic Games.
In sum, no one knows. The Tribune doesn't analyze with much rigor what parts of Atlanta's economic problems come from unrelated factors. Nor do they tease out the direct economic benefits or costs of hosting the games. In short, it's one more frustratingly unhelpful piece of journalism about local politics.
I think our problems and our strengths look nothing like Atlanta's. Possibly Los Angeles might have been a better model; it's hard to say. I honestly don't know whether Chicago will benefit or lose from 2016. No one does. But I think we'll find out, whether we want to or not.