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What If Chicago Had Won The 2016 Olympics?

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Thousands filled Daley Plaza in 2009 to learn if Chicago would land the 2016 Olympics.

At the time, the news was not good. The games were awarded to Rio and are set to open on Friday.

As the world gets ready to watch Brazil in the spotlight, did Chicago actually avoid a disaster by not getting the Games?

Sandra Bivens heads the 51st Street Business Association. It's a stone's throw from Washington Park, where the Olympic stadium would have been built.

She believes the Olympics would have driven away long-time residents, who would have been unable to afford the increased housing costs near such a high-profile location.

"All of sudden housing can go up 50 percent," she told CBS 2's Jim Williams. "So you can't even rent in your own neighborhood anymore."

The most powerful Chicagoans pushed hard to win the Olympics, predicting the games would spark an economic revival throughout the South Side.

Still, in Daley Plaza seven years ago, the overwhelming sense was that Chicago had lost something grand. Today, hindsight suggests the defeat might have been Chicago's good fortune.

"Given the fiscal problems of the city, it probably would have been an enormous burden and a challenge that might have been hard to overcome as we tried to build venues as we're trying to shore up pension plans and balance a budget," said Andy Shaw, president of the Better Government Association.

The price tag for the Rio games is billions more than what had been estimated.

Perhaps that tempers this grim sight—empty land where Chicago's Olympic Village would have been built.

It might have been Chicago's good fortune to lose the games.

However, Shaw believes the athletes, television networks and fans would have been pleased with Chicago, given the city's success hosting big events like the NFL draft, Lollapalooza and countless conventions.

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