CHICAGO (CBS) — A University of Chicago economist says Antarctica or Guam would be better places than Chicago for the upcoming G8 and NATO summits, now scheduled for mid-May in the Windy City.
Economist Allen Sanderson often questions large scale government subsidies for sports venues like Soldier Field for the Bears and U.S. Cellular Field for the White Sox. In the case of the NATO and G8 summits, Sanderson says there’s a lot of downside for the city’s reputation and little upside in the way of economic development.READ MORE: Settlement Talks In Anjanette Young Wrong Raid Case Break Down; City Asks Judge To Dismiss Lawsuit
“It’s just a potential disaster,” Sanderson said. “Again, I hope it’s not. I hope things go really well and the city gets a real positive spin from it, but if you were betting in Las Vegas, you’d bet that’s not going to be the outcome.”
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The city says security precautions will cost $65 million, to be picked up by private donors and the federal government.
Sanderson says the summits are expected to attract 7,000 dignitaries and their security forces, as well tens of thousands of demonstrators. He says the timing couldn’t be worse, coming as it does, in the springtime.
“If the events were held in February … in Chicago there would be far fewer protests than (if they) were held in May. I mean, everybody, the Occupy folks will come out of hibernation by then,” Sanderson said.READ MORE: Rockton Residents Can Return Home Four Days After The Chemtool Fire
Sanderson says daily battles between police and demonstrators could give Chicago a serious black eye as did the Democratic National Convention of 1968.
If the summits went off trouble-free, that could indeed burnish Chicago’s reputation, but Sanderson said if he had to put money on it, he’d bet against that happening.
Sanderson says the delegates won’t be doing much for the Chicago economy other than hotels and restaurants for the days they’re here.
But he says violent demonstrations and police reactions could easily outweigh the benefits.
Sanderson recommends the two summits be held somewhere far away, mentioning Kansas, Guam or the Antarctica as possible locations.MORE NEWS: Competing Versions Of Civilian Police Oversight Board Both Stall In Public Safety Committee
“Guam, the Canary Islands, Antarctica; someplace where people could meet in peace,” Sanderson said.