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Games fund-raising lags, say 2024 foes

Backers contend work going well toward $75m goal

An artist's rendering of a proposed pedestrian boulevard near downtown.
An artist's rendering of a proposed pedestrian boulevard near downtown.Boston 2024/Associated Press

Boston 2024 may fall short of its $75 million fund-raising goal unless it can accelerate the pace of contributions, according to a group that opposes holding the Summer Olympics in the city.

After bringing in $10.4 million last year as the bid was launched, Boston 2024 attracted $3.9 million in cash and in-kind contributions in the first quarter. That’s just more than half the quarterly average it will need to meet its target by September 2017.

“It’s really low,’’ said Chris Dempsey, a former Bain & Co. consultant who is cochairman of the group No Boston Olympics. “They should’ve had their best quarter ever” after the US Olympic Committee selected Boston in January as the country’s bid city.

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But the victory generated both good and bad publicity. By March, there was a swell of opposition to the bid from taxpayers who fear they would be left with a bill for billions of dollars and from critics who said the effort was being carried out behind closed doors by a small group of the city’s wealthiest business people.

Since then, Boston 2024 has changed leaders, elevating Bain Capital managing director Stephen Pagliuca, a key early fund-raiser, to chairman. Last week, it released its first public status report in response to calls for greater transparency.

Executives from Boston 2024 say fund-raising is proceeding successfully and suggest that there are larger commitments on the horizon.

“We are extremely pleased and grateful for the support we have received and are on track to meet our fund-raising goals,’’ Erin Murphy, chief operating officer for the group, said in a statement. “This is one of the strongest starts for a bid city, and it shows the strong support in Boston and in Massachusetts for hosting the . . . Games.”

According to last week’s report, Boston 2024 raised nearly $2.9 million in cash in the first quarter, including at least $1 million from construction magnate John Fish, who served as chairman of Boston 2024 before Pagliuca. The group also received $980,532 of in-kind contributions such as office space and consulting services.

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All told, Boston 2024 has taken in $14 million, or about 19 percent of the total executives estimate they need to prepare the Olympic bid.

If supporters don’t start showing up at a faster clip, reaching the $60 million cash part of the total goal would be a challenge, according to Dempsey of No Boston Olympics.

With $9.5 million in cash, the Olympic bidders are seeking $50.5 million more. Over the next 10 quarters, that comes to an average of $5.1 million every three months.

Repeat donors in the quarter included some of Pagliuca’s Bain colleagues and companies whose executives are deeply involved in the bid. A smattering of new names also appeared on the list, although most of them gave less than $50,000.

Dempsey acknowledges his group’s calculations assume future quarters won’t be significantly better than the last one.

“You would think in the immediate aftermath of the USOC decision’’ to choose Boston, he said, “they’d have had momentum.”


Beth Healy can be reached at beth.healy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @HealyBeth.