Five rings, Two babies and One month to go

Today’s Wisch List column from the Kankakee Daily Journal

Five rings, Two babies and One month to go


Sept. 5, 2009

Pat Sandusky is in demand.

On Monday evening, while sitting at a Wrigleyville watering hole and having a beer with an old Pony League Baseball teammate (me), the lead spokesman for Chicago 2016 watches his Blackberry light up on the table in front of him.

An anchor from Fox Chicago is calling.

In just the past few hours, Sandusky has fielded calls from ABC7, WSCR and the Sun-Times, in addition to stopping by the Tribune Tower to meet with the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board.

Pretty soon, he’ll need to leave the bar so he can get back home. After all, his wife – and their newborn twins – are there, waiting for Dad.

Like I said, Pat Sandusky is in demand.

In less than a month on Oct. 2, the members of the International Olympic Committee and the bid teams from Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo – the four cities vying for the 2016 Olympics – will convene in Copenhagen, where we’ll finally learn who will host the world’s biggest sports spectacle seven summers from now.

As a key member of the Chicago 2016 delegation, the pages of the calendar are falling off at a rapid rate for Sandusky, a Bourbonnais native and 1993 graduate of Bishop McNamara High School.

Not that the hectic pace is really anything new, considering life has been quite the blur for Sandusky and his wife, Kate, since June 19 when their twins, Brendan and Jessica, were born.

Yet even in the midst of the madness inherent in juggling kids and a high-profile job, Sandusky said that becoming a first-time father – twice – has actually put him more at ease than ever before.

“It immediately puts things in perspective,” he explained about fatherhood to the second power. “I’m a pretty easygoing guy, but it’s made me even more easygoing with the perspective it gives you. It’s actually been the total opposite of stressing me out.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that Sandusky is relaxed.

“I’ve been to London more often lately than I’ve been to Bourbonnais,” he said with a chuckle. “When a random flight attendant at Heathrow (Airport in London) recognizes you, you know you’re traveling too much.”

In just the past few weeks, Sandusky has flown to England, Italy, Germany and Denmark. He’s missed his wedding anniversary (and surely made up for it), has watched Usain Bolt sprint (in Berlin) and Michael Phelps swim (in Rome). He’s piled up gobs of frequent flier miles and also packed on a pound, maybe two.

“One thing I’ve had to sacrifice right now,” Sandusky said wryly, “is going to the gym.”

He’ll get a workout over the next 25 days, though, as Chicago 2016 attempts to tie up its loose ends in preparation for the big day in Copenhagen. Sandusky and the city’s delegation know there’s still work to be done, as indicated on Wednesday when the IOC released a report sizing up Chicago’s chances of landing the 2016 Games.

While the feedback was favorable overall, the IOC did express concerns about Chicago’s transportation issues, how the city will divvy up management responsibilities and, most significantly, who exactly is on the hook for the Olympics’ tab.

The latter is an issue of concern for many Chicagoans, as well, according to the results of a Tribune/WGN poll released on Thursday. The survey, which polled 380 city residents, indicated that support over whether Chicago should host the Games has declined since February, when the approval rate was 61 percent.

The latest poll found that 45 percent of city residents now oppose Mayor Richard Daley’s Olympic plans, while 47 percent are in support. It also was reported that 84 percent of city residents oppose using tax dollars to cover any financial shortfalls for the Games.

However, in an editorial also published Thursday, the Chicago Tribune noted that, “The organizers of Chicago’s bid for the Olympic Games have made significant moves in recent days to assure the city that their operations will be transparent and that they will carefully manage the financial risks. We, too, have more confidence than we had a few weeks ago that taxpayers will be protected.”

Sandusky acknowledged the criticisms directed by some towards a Chicago Games, but believes the plusses outweigh them.

“From a personal standpoint, it’s been amazing to be a part of something that – if we win – will be an altering event for the City of Chicago,” Sandusky said. “More than anything since the turn of the (20th) Century, it will change the face of Chicago for the future. And to be part of that would be an amazing thing. It’s also why everyone (with Chicago 2016) is so committed.”

And as for whether the stork will be bringing five Olympic rings to the Windy City like it brought two babies to the Sandusky household?

“I think we’re in a great position,” Sandusky said. “There are a lot of great cities in the race, but I think we’re going to be in a position to win it when we make our final presentation in Copenhagen.”

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