Daley’s Temporary Stadium

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is making a bid for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games that includes the type of massive temporary facility used at the city’s 1893 World’s Fair – and he is being both lauded and criticized for it.

Daley’s proposal for the Games includes a $300 million, 95,000-seat stadium inside Washington Park, according to the Chicago Tribune. Much like the buildings of the World’s Fair, which were constructed with materials that could be easily torn down, the stadium would be razed after the Games.

A sunken, 10,000-seat amphitheatre would be left at its gravesite, the paper said. Some love the idea, some hate it.

“It’s a telegenic site, close to the likely Olympic village and large enough to accommodate crowds much more comfortably than the lakefront,” the Tribune said in an op-ed piece. “These factors should make Daley’s new proposal more appealing to the U.S. Olympic Committee, which was unimpressed with the dual stadium plan.”

Chicago originally envisioned using Soldier Field Stadium and a temporary stadium in a location other than the park. The Tribune said Daley “scores some quick political points” for promoting a neighborhood in need of development.

But Washington Park is special to some open-space advocates. The park’s architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, also designed New York City’s Central Park. The permanent scar of a big hole in the ground didn’t sit well.

“Totally inappropriate,” Jerry Adelmann, executive director of non-profit organization Openlands Project, told the paper.

“It seems to me this plan would destroy the legacy of Olmsted in that park,” said Friends of the Parks President Erma Tranter.

“If [the amphitheatre] is completely an oval filled with concrete bleachers, 360 degrees around, it would be a huge imposition on the meadow,” added Chicago landscape architect Peter Schaudt.

Tom Kerwin, a partner in coordinating architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, said at a news conference that the goal “is to make it as sympathetic to the park as possible. He showed photos of track facilities in Spain that blended into urban parks and suggested the outcome here would be similar.

The International Olympic Committee is expected to pick a host city for the 2016 Games in October 2009.