Meigs Field and Loss of Revenue

meigs_xOn March 31, 2003, ten years ago, former mayor Richard M. Daley criminally destroyed Meigs Airport by sending under police escort heavy construction equipment to cut huge swaths across the lone runway so airplanes could not land or depart the airport any longer. This act of wanton destruction caused the loss of about $65 million annually in combined revenue sources to the city and state, caused many to loose their jobs, was a factor in the embarrassing decision to not have the 2014 Olympics in Chicago, and is symbolic of how Chicago is not the economic engine it should be.

The destruction of Meigs is symbolic of the economic decay Chicago & Illinois has seen over the last ten years as evidenced by the reduction of US Congressional seats from 19 to 18 due to the census change. People and their business are leaving our once proud state in record numbers which could reverse our poor image if The cool little airport by the lake were to be restored!

McCormick Place has underperformed in part because the ingress & egress of people and goods was damaged by Meigs destruction. The proximity of Meigs to McCormick Place made it very convenient to do business there. How has business been over the last 10 years there since?

On game day, the Chicago Bears, Cubs, and White Sox had people come in from all over the country to see the game, maybe spend a night or two, have a good time, spend a few bucks, only to want to come back again in the future. Many would come in to go to the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, and Shed Aquarium as well via Meigs airport.

Over the years, many people would fly into Meigs to conduct business downtown, shop on the Mag Mile, visit the many local attractions, or pilots would enjoy the experience of landing and taking off of a runway located along the lake. Many will remember the Microsoft Flight Simulator program had one location based at Meigs. Capital Airlines had commuter flight operations connecting Chicago with regional airports like Peoria, Rockford, Champaign, Decatur and of course, Springfield, where many government people could easily commute without spending 4+ hours in traffic.

Today, an active Meigs airport would be pumping $100M into the local economy, would see the Tuskegee Airmen continue to give aviation exposure to Chicago kids, and would continue to be an important base for rescue operations. It would be the landing spot for President Obama to helicopter from Ohare to the lake front as was done when past presidents would come to Chicago, and not clog up the highways for hours! Additionally, it would remove a major world wide, embarrassing scar Chicago received when Meigs was ruined!

Recently there is talk of building a new 10,000 seat stadium to host the DuPaul basketball team as well as other events at McCormick Place, a possible casino, more hotels, etc. Those all are great ideas, but dreams do not become reality by simply wishing them to be. What do you suppose could be a huge factor to make these proposals have better success? What would make any future plans for economic development in downtown Chicago have a better outcome? Reopen Meigs Airport! It makes all the sense in the world if you think about it.

If a casino, any future sports stadium, hotel, or other enhancement were to be built near the Meigs Airport area, all of those ideas would be better served economically if the airport was still in operation, otherwise forget about it. It with be the SOS. Reopening Meigs Airport would send a signal that Illinois is going to reverse the backwards economic course it has been on for a long time and do something unique to Il. Create jobs and economic opportunities!

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About Jim Economos

Jim Economos is a practicing dentist in Bartlett, Illinois. He is a graduate of Southern Illinois University, and University of Illinois College of Dentistry.


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