Chicago Prepares

It’s not the world championship celebration for the Cubs many here were hoping for, but the news did seep out this week that the Obama campaign is planning an Election Night party here – possibly in Grant Park.

“[A]ll indications are that campaign officials are leaning toward Hutchinson Field on the south end of Grant Park as the site of their election night party,” CBS2 reports. “The field is home to softball diamonds, the popular summer Lollapalooza music festival and was the site of the mass Pope John Paul held in Chicago nearly 30 years ago.”

Agence France-Press reports that campaign aides are also considering Millennium Park, but the park is hardly equipped to handle that sort of event.

The campaign is working with city officials on the arrangements, and you can bet that the cash-strapped Daley administration will foist every penny of the bill on the flush Obama campaign (as other cities have).

Meanwhile, the city is preparing in other ways for a possible Obama victory.

Bob Reed reports in Chicago magazine on the possible benefits to Chicago of an Obama win – “from Olympic dreams to entrepreneurs’ schemes.”

The prospect of a President Barack Obama fills the top executive of Chicago Trolley and Double Decker Company with the audacity of hope. The company president is dreaming not of seismic political change but of the possibility of attracting new customers eager to visit Obama’s haunts in his adopted hometown, places where the Democratic Party candidate lived, worked, and played. “Focusing a tour around Obama and his personal local story is something we’re going to consider,” says Rob Pierson, president of Chicago Trolley, which is owned by a Scottish-based company.

The trolley operator isn’t the only one thinking of how Chicago will change if Obama wins the presidency. Some backers of the Illinois senator expect the city to reap an Obama dividend if he prevails over GOP opponent John McCain in the November election. The anticipated advantages range from landing more federal money to enhancing Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics. Key local advisers and friends – such as the real-estate executive Valerie B. Jarrett – would likely land influential roles in the new administration. And Obama’s Hyde Park-Kenwood neighborhood expects a rash of new shops, restaurants, and tourist attractions, especially if the Obama family comes home to a Summer White House.

You can smell the meat a-cookin’.

And, of course, the speculation remains rife about who would replace Obama in the U.S. Senate.

All of which may be getting ahead of ourselves; the Obama campaign sent out an e-mail under Joe Biden’s name on Thursday with the subject line “Reality Check,” stating that Al Gore had a double-digit lead in the polls in October of 2000 (he may have been referring to this) and that ” The surest way to lose a race is to slow down with the finish line in sight . . . That’s why we’ve set the goal of bringing in 100,000 new donors by Friday at midnight.”

And if some of that money ends up generously reimbursing the city for a victory celebration – or even a mass mourning – so be it.

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