Business

Olympics group calls on wealthy executives

‘Founders 100’ entry donation is $50,000

A proposed Olympic Stadium in Boston, Massachusetts is seen in this handout image made available January 21, 2015 by the Boston2024 group, which is organizing Boston's bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. REUTERS/Boston2024/Handout via Reuters (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT OLYMPICS) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS

Handout via REUTERS

A conceptual drawing of the proposed Olympic Stadium in Boston.

Organizers of Boston’s 2024 Olympics campaign are wooing wealthy business executives to join an elite group of private financial donors known as the “Founders 100.” Entry to the club starts at $50,000.

The Founders, numbering about 30 so far, are a microcosm of the city’s prosperous and powerful: male, white and at the peaks of their careers. They hail from private equity, health care, finance and sports, and include the heads of familiar companies like EMC Corp., Staples Inc. and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Well-known philanthropists like the families of Amos Hostetter and Peter Lynch also are on the list.

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The roster is notable for its missing names, too. Some veterans of the business community, like retired advertising executive Jack Connors and food service giant Joe O’Donnell, are not among the founders. Neither are women like Abigail Johnson, the billionaire chief executive of Fidelity Investments.

Several people involved in the group said it will quickly expand to be more diverse, both to become more inclusive and to raise the $75 million now being sought to sell Boston’s Olympic proposal.

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“I think John Fish and the entire leadership of Boston 2024 will be highly invested from both a personal and professional level in making this the most diverse leadership team ever for the Olympics,’’ said Gloria Larson, president of Bentley University and a member of the Boston 2024 executive committee but not a check-writing founder. “Any endeavor like this starts with a small nucleus and expands.”

In a presentation to potential supporters, “Investing in Boston’s Future,’’ a copy of which was obtained by the Globe, donors are promised access to private events with Olympians, briefings on the progress of the bid, and a place for their names on the “founders wall featured prominently” in the Olympic stadium.

Document: “Investing in Boston’s Future”

“This special society is limited to the first 100 businesses/individuals who donate at a leadership level to the Boston 2024 Olympic Bid. Membership in this unique group is nearing completion,’’ the presentation says.

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Many of those perks would only be enjoyed a decade down the road, if Boston is selected to host the Games. The people who have given money thus far generally fall into two camps: those who fervently believe an Olympics would be good for Boston and their wealthy friends who want to support them.

“I like the idea of using the Olympics as a way to build infrastructure for Boston that is needed in any case,’’ said Mark Casady, chief executive of LPL Financial, a Boston-based brokerage company, in an e-mail while traveling. “I was skeptical but found the plans so compelling that I joined.” Casady gave $50,000.

William Achtmeyer, chairman of the Parthenon Group management consulting firm, gave $100,000.

Five Bain Capital executives, led by Stephen Pagliuca, who is cochairman of the 2024 fund-raising effort, wrote checks for a total of $650,000.

Owners of the Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, and New England Patriots have donated. John Henry, who is principal owner of the Red Sox and owns The Boston Globe, has not donated.

Entry to the founders group costs $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for companies.

Some who have declined to contribute feel that 2024 is too far on the horizon to commit their time and money. Connors, for instance, noted that he will be 82 by then. Some companies were waiting for Boston to get the nod from the US Olympic Committee. Other prominent people have not yet been asked.

Fletcher “Flash” Wiley, a longtime Boston lawyer and civic leader who was part of a 2004 effort to bring the Olympics here, said he is not aware of any people of color being approached.

“The fact is that in 2015, you don’t have a lot of African-Americans running organizations that mean something to the city. I think John [Fish] was focused primarily on people that could come up with money quickly,’’ said Wiley, who is black.

“I think the optics of this will drive the need to increase the diversity, and I think they understand that and want to do that. But first things first — first they want to win the deal.’’

Boston lawyer Wayne Budd said he has not yet been approached by the Founders but would be open to hearing more.

“On balance, I would be in favor of the Olympics coming here,’’ said Budd, who also is black. “I do know John Fish and have great respect and regard for him and just have not spoken to him about this or anybody else involved in the effort.”

At a 7:30 a.m. breakfast at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in the Back Bay on Jan. 16, the 2024 fund-raisers met with confirmed and prospective donors. The meeting was hosted by Fish, Pagliuca, and his fund-raising cochairman, Roger Crandall, chief executive of Springfield’s Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., as well as Bill Glavin, the chairman of MassMutual’s OppenheimerFunds Inc.

Such insider updates on the bid process are among the perks offered to founders. Now that Boston has been confirmed, more companies and individuals are expected to jump on board and more publicly offer support.

Some companies had wanted to avoid picking favorites while four US cities were competing for the Games. Bank of America Corp., for instance, did not originally appear on the list, but the banking giant has provided $500,000 in support, at the direction of its Boston-based marketing chief, Anne Finucane.

The city’s financial sector is well represented, from banks to Putnam Investments chief executive Robert Reynolds, State Street Corp., Natixis Global Asset Management, and Liberty Mutual.

Fidelity, given its prominence, is an unusual holdout. But the company dispatched a member of its government relations team to the Mandarin Oriental meeting to keep tabs.

Vincent Loporchio, a spokesman for the company, said, “As a major employer in the region, we are studying the issue and gathering information.”

Beth Healy can be reached at beth.healy@globe.com.
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