The University of Chicago, dueling with schools in Hawaii and New York to grab President Obama's presidential library, is crowing over an economic study that suggests theirs would be about twice as popular than the nation's No. 1 facility, the Ronald Reagan library in Simi Valley, Calif.
The study from the Anderson Economic Group and commissioned by U of C, predicted that plunking the Obama school in a big city that's home to the first family will help draw visitors and make it the top presidential library destination.
“The estimate of 800,000 visitors per year is almost twice the number of visitors to the Reagan Presidential Library,” said the school of their plan to build it on Chicago's South Side.
They called their proposal the "first truly urban presidential library," though Dallas hosts former President George W. Bush's library Boston has the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum. Those libraries are in quieter neighborhoods than the plan for Chicago.
And then there is Obama’s legacy as the first black president, something the school said will draw greater tourist and visitor traffic.
"The Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum, due to the historical significance of Obama’s presidency, will be a tourist attraction for reasons that other presidential libraries cannot claim," said the school.
To estimate who will visit the library “due to President Obama’s status as the first African American president,” the report authors visited several prominent African-American sites, and figured that a Chicago library would win another 50,000 visitors, akin to the number who visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.
Obama has not decided between the University of Chicago, New York’s Columbia University or the University of Hawaii as the host for his library. He is expected to live in Chicago.
For a president who has suggested that he will focus on the economically downtrodden in his retirement, the report could make it hard for him to resist Chicago. If found that the $600 million to $1 billion library would pour $220 million into the city's economy each year and create 1,900 permanent new jobs.Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.