Chicago turns to Indiana hotels for Olympics bid
VALPARAISO, Ind. - The organizers of Chicago's bid for the 2016 summer Olympics are turning to northern Indiana's hotels for help in the Windy City's campaign to land the games.
Under International Olympic Committee rules, there must be 60,000 hotel rooms secured for the thousands of members of the "Olympic Family" -- workers, sponsors and media -- who would turn out for the games eight years from now.
With about 42,000 rooms already committed, the Chicago Olympic Committee needs an additional 18,000 rooms as they prepare the city's bid package.
A representative for Chicago 2016 met Wednesday with northern Indiana's tourism leaders of Porter, LaPorte, Elkhart, South Bend, Kosciusko and Marshall counties.
Northern Indiana tourism leaders are excited about that prospect, and of exposing the world to their unique slice of the world.
"Obviously, the economic impact would be off the scale," Jack Arnett, executive director of the LaPorte County Convention and Visitors bureau, said.
He said that about 50 hoteliers from those counties also attended the meeting, with some leaving with a signed contract.
Lorelei Weimer, executive director of the Porter County Convention Recreation and Visitors Commission, said she's thrilled with the opportunity to showcase northern Indiana's unique assets such as the Indiana Dunes, the University of Notre Dame and Amish Country.
Hoteliers who want to house the "Olympic Family" must meet criteria that requires 85 percent of all rooms be blocked in their facility, competitive controlled rates and no minimum stay requirements, among other rules.
The deadline for hotel management to reach an agreement is Sept. 15.
The Chicago 2016 representative will visit Porter County in a few weeks to meet with the hoteliers, said Ruth Keefover, the bureau's public relations director.
Speros Batistatos, chief executive officer and president of the Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said his group has also turned over the county's lodging information to the Chicago committee.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said recently that the committee has been tireless in their efforts to win the international committee's vote.
Swimmer Michael Phelps, an eight-time gold medalist at Beijing and a national sensation since, was recently recruited to bolster Chicago's bid. He'll be in Chicago next week.
Chicago is one of the four finalists to host the summer games. The other finalists are Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, and Madrid. The International Olympics Committee will select the host city next year.