During the course of reporting his story on the Olympics bidding process, Neil Swidey contacted Boston 2024’s chairman, John Fish, to ask about questions economists and other critics had raised about potential conflicts of interest with his firm, Suffolk Construction. This is Fish’s response in full.
As you know, I decided to recuse Suffolk Construction from all construction projects related to the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games if Boston is chosen as the host city. I made this decision because I wanted to demonstrate that I am heading up this bid effort for the benefit of the City of Boston and Commonwealth of Massachusetts and not for my personal benefit or for the benefit of my company. As I have said all along, this bid effort is about thinking bigger and creating a brighter future for our city.
It is also important to note that Boston 2024 and Mayor Marty Walsh have agreed that all Olympics-related construction projects will be competitively bid.
1) One criticism was that you would be recusing Suffolk from only those projects that will [be] directly overseen by the Boston [Organizing] Committee of the Olympic Games, but not other infrastructure work that will be related to Boston’s hosting of the Games though not overseen by BOCOG. Can you clarify whether this will be the case, or whether your recusal would extend to any infrastructure work related to the hosting of the 2024 Games, regardless of which entity is overseeing the bids?
Suffolk specializes in managing building construction projects, which we refer to as “vertical construction.” Our company does not manage the construction of roads, bridges or tunnels, otherwise known as “horizontal construction.” Suffolk would not be involved in the bidding of any infrastructure work related to the Olympics.
2) Another criticism is that, even if Suffolk doesn’t bid directly on any Olympics-related projects, all of your competitors will be so busy meeting that surging demand that this will give Suffolk an important advantage on bidding on the usual supply of (non-Olympics) construction projects that the region would see leading up to 2024.
We are now experiencing one of the most unprecedented periods of construction activity and growth in the history of Boston, with many billions of dollars of construction currently in progress and many more in the pipeline. Competition for these exciting projects is stronger than ever, with many Boston-based, national and international contractors all bidding for the work. I am confident that this strong interest in helping to transform the Boston skyline will not subside once construction of the Olympics venues begins. There are many strong and qualified contractors in this industry, so competition for Olympics-related and non-Olympics-related projects will remain strong.
3) Finally, from a completely different angle, others have questioned whether having a company as experienced and proven as Suffolk sit out all of the Olympics-related construction projects would actually be in Boston’s best interest. Do you see the logic in that argument?
While Suffolk has the largest market share of projects in Boston, there are many other qualified contractors like Turner and Skanska that are also currently building successful projects in the city and plan to build many more in the future. Whether Suffolk is managing these future projects or they are being managed by other experienced contractors, the future of Boston’s skyline is in very good hands. It’s also important to mention that even though Suffolk will not be managing any construction related to the Olympics, Boston 2024 will still benefit pro bono from my wealth of construction experience as Chair of Boston 2024.