Hizzoner has shown once again how much he cares about the black community by proposing that Chicago's Olympic Stadium be built in "downtrodden" (Chicago Tribune) and "frayed" (Sun-Times) Washington Park on the South Side.
Here we go again. Washington Park is NOT a frayed, downtrodden park. It is not Douglas Park or Humbodlt Park, the large parks most yuppie decision and opinion makers are familiar with. It is not a breeder of crime and drug sales and is heavily used by members of surrounding communities and is an important meeting space and asset for the Mid-South Side. Yet again, Daley is showing his uncanny ability to exploit the structures of race and exclusion to push through his pet projects. I'm positive that opponents of the stadium (which has been described as collapsible... !) will be painted as pie-in-the sky hippe greenies who are blocking economic development for the South Side.
And again, the Mayor and his bootlackers will be wrong. Stadiums do not necessarily provide immediate or even long or short term benefit to surrounding neighborhoods (US Cellular anybody?) . The beautiful Great Meadow of Washington Park is a community asset that would be destroyed by the collapsible stadium (are we talking about pick-up stick construction?). I'm neither solidly pro nor anti stadium. What I would like to see, and what the racial reality and political machinations of the Mayor prevent, is an honest debate that takes into account the real costs and benefits of such a project.