Chicago Buffs Its Image With World Cup Spotlight
City organizes its largest security effort ever
CHICAGO — SINCE taking charge of City Hall, Mayor Richard Daley has tried to promote Chicago as an ``international'' city and erase its coarse, dated image as ``hog butcher for the world'' and playground for gangsters.
Next month, during the city's biggest international extravaganza since the 1933 World's Fair, Mayor Daley will have an opportunity to change the way more than a billion people see Chicago.
The mayor has mobilized city government and earmarked millions of dollars to host 24 countries in the June 17 opening ceremonies for the World Cup soccer tournament. City officials estimate that some 300,000 spectators will visit - 100,000 of them from abroad - and 1.5 billion people will view the opening ceremonies on television.
In addition, Chicago expects up to a dozen world leaders to attend, including President Clinton and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
``The instant foreign visitors come to Chicago, they'll learn that the myth [about gangland Chicago] is about as dead as Al Capone,'' says Bill Utter, spokesman for the Chicago Host Committee overseeing World Cup events.
Still, the city has learned that special prominence brings special duties. It has had to gear up its police for the opening ceremony and matches, the city's largest security operation ever. A combined force of city, state, and federal law enforcement agencies aims at detering terrorism, assassination, and European-style soccer hooliganism.
Chicago is one of nine cities nationwide hosting a total of 52 soccer matches over a 16-day period. Five games will be played in the Windy City.
``This is completely national in scope; I don't believe this country has ever done an event like this,'' says Lt. John Flanagan, coordinator for World Cup security at the Chicago Police Department.
Both city and federal law enforcement officials declined to confirm local newspaper reports that the Pentagon is loaning Chicago an arsenal of security and crowd-control gear. But in total, the Pentagon plans to spend $15 million for security during the World Cup, says Lt. Col. Doug Hart, a Pentagon spokesman.
In addition, the Pentagon and FBI have briefed personnel from police departments from the host cities at nine sessions conducted since October 1992.
Gathering at the FBI academy at Quantico, Va., the police have heard from their counterparts in several European countries tips on how to handle soccer spectators.
European and Latin American stadiums, for example, generally have no seats, so fans stand throughout a match.
``The stadium officials will have to say to foreign spectators: `Gee, we normally sit here,' or they will have to adapt and let these people stand and cheer the entire game,'' Lieutenant Flanagan says.
Although the mayor touts Chicago as a cosmopolitan city, the world's favorite sport - soccer - is comparatively alien to most Chicagoans.
The Chicago Sting, the city's only pro soccer team, folded in 1987. The Chicago Power, part of the indoor National Professional Soccer League, does not play in Chicago, but at a suburban auditorium in Rosemont, Ill.