Chicago Wants the 2016 Olympics

The Second City wants to host the Games in 2016 and local graphic designers, VSA Partners, designed a clever logo to help make their case

Runners spotted a torch at the Chicago Marathon in October, although it wasn’t meant for carrying. Appearing on scaffolding, banners, and T-shirts, it was the City of Chicago’s official logo for its 2016 Olympic Games bid.

Local graphic designers VSA Partners intended the logo for a double take: The flame, upon closer scrutiny, features the modern city skyline. And the torch handle represents the green and blue of city parks and Lake Michigan, as well as Mayor Richard Daley’s emphasis on environmental sustainability.

Los Angeles poses Chicago’s only competition for the U.S. bid, since San Francisco dropped out of consideration in early November. Still, next year the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) has to decide whether or not it will even enter an American city in the international running. So “The brand had to communicate the spirit and essence of Chicago but also touch a number of key audiences emotionally, including area residents…as well as the U.S. and International Olympic Committees,” Dana Arnett, principal of VSA partners explains.

The logo was launched several weeks after Mayor Daley unveiled another aspect of Chicago’s bid: a revised plan for a 95,000-seat stadium that would host the potential Games’ opening and closing ceremonies as well as track and field events. According to preliminary plans by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the building would be located in Washington Park and adapted into a 10,000-seat track and field complex afterward. Other venues would be woven into the fabric of the city to ensure easy access for the public and athletes.

While Chicago will submit a book of master plans to the USOC in January and will receive an official answer in April, during the wait the logo will undergo its own building boom, proliferating in events venues, advertisements, and merchandise.

The International Olympic Committee will decide on a 2016 host city in October 2009. Madrid, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, and Rome are among the cities that have expressed interest.

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