Chicagoans learned plenty about AOPA's win-win proposal to save Meigs Field thanks to extensive coverage by local media.
All of the major news outlets—print, radio, and television—turned out for Thursday's news conference at Chicago's Plaza Club, at which AOPA President Phil Boyer outlined how the city could use federal dollars to buy the airport land, reopen the runway, and have money to build the nature reserve that Mayor Richard Daley wants so badly. The event generated nearly three dozen broadcast reports, plus coverage in The Chicago Tribune and several other publications.
Boyer told the reporters that obtaining the federal funds is "as close to a slam dunk as possible," because so many powerful legislators in Washington want to see Meigs reopened.
"This is something that I think would work, and I certainly would endorse it from the federal level," said Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) in taped comments presented at the news conference. Inhofe chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which oversees federal spending on the nation's infrastructure.
"Purchase of the Meigs property from the park district by the city would be an uncomplicated process," Boyer said. "This a sensible solution to the Meigs issue for everyone."
WBBM, the CBS affiliate, went live into their midday newscast just moments after the news conference ended, including an interview with Boyer. "Mayor Daley has always been always been a proponent of parks, and also a proponent making sure the city and the Park District are fiscally sound," Boyer told WBBM's Chris Hernandez. "This a way to do both. There's no reason there can't be an aviation park at Meigs Field as many have proposed in the past."
All of the local television newsrooms carried the story in their evening and late newscasts.
"The mayor may have dismissed our proposal out-of-hand," said AOPA Vice President Warren Morningstar, "but as judged by the amount of media coverage, the citizens of Chicago are still listening."
Photo: WBBM-TV reporter Chris Hernandez interviews Boyer on the AOPA plan to save Meigs.