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Questions greet idea for Olympics

The fledgling effort to bring the 2024 Summer Olympic Games to Boston is sparking a mix of skepticism and enthusiasm from political and business leaders.

Last month, state lawmakers passed legislation to create a commission to study the feasibility of hosting the games in Massachusetts, and in recent weeks developers, construction magnates, and other business leaders have met to discuss how to boost a potential bid.

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When asked Monday whether he thought it was feasible to bring the Olympics to Boston, Governor Deval Patrick said it was up to the commission to figure that out.

“I signed that bill,” he said of the commission, which is expected to issue a report next year on whether a bid is worth the considerable costs. “We’ll do the appointments soon and then we’ll go from there.”

The spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino said he remains skeptical about an Olympics bid and wants to know more before any decisions are made.

“It’s exciting to think that the city may host this large-scale event, but it is important to know more about whether or not this scale can be accommodated here,” Menino spokeswoman Dot Joyce said Monday.

She added: “The mayor has made it clear that the city will actively participate, at least under his watch, and as we move forward through the transition.”

Earlier this year, Menino called the idea “far-fetched.”

In an interview with WBUR-FM in March, Menino raised concerns about the costs to taxpayers, noting it could cost $6 million to $8 million just to submit an Olympics bid.

“Especially in these economic times . . . I need every penny I have to make sure we continue the services to the people of Boston,” Menino told WBUR.

Kate Norton, a spokeswoman for mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh, said he is “interested in exploring this possibility, noting that this should be a regional effort. We look forward to seeing this concept develop.”

The Globe reported Sunday that John F. Fish, chairman of Suffolk Construction, is leading the private effort to bring the games to Boston. He hosted a delegation of the US Olympic Committee, which visited in October and viewed potential Olympic sites around Boston.

The group is being advised by former governor Mitt Romney, who ran the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, called the idea of bringing the games to Boston “certainly worth exploring.”

“Ultimately, the question is: What are the trade-offs?” he said. “I certainly think it makes sense to determine what would be involved and see whether it’s realistic to make a bid.”

He said he would be concerned about the impact on traffic, public safety, and local budgets. “It’s a massive undertaking,” he said. “It clearly would take a major communitywide effort to pull this off.”

Jack Connors, who founded the Boston advertising firm Hill Holliday and served as chairman of the board of Partners HealthCare, said he would not take part in the effort to bring the Games to Boston, noting he would be 82 years old in 2024.

But he said he has no concerns about the Olympic bid.

“When you look at all the resources outlined, and you look at some of the cities that have won the Olympics in the past, I would say Boston deserves a shot,” he said.

Pat Moscaritolo, president of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, also called the idea “definitely worth exploring.” But he noted that a similar effort more than a decade ago found it was not viable for the Boston region to host the Olympics.

“There were huge challenges then, and the city has only gotten busier, bigger, and seen more development,” he said. “It isn’t without serious challenges.”

But he said new technology, especially in construction, may make it feasible. “I am certainly intrigued by the idea,” he said.

David Abel can be reached at david.abel@globe.com.
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