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Boston makes Amazon’s first HQ2 cut. But where in Boston?

The city of Boston’s proposal focuses on the Suffolk Downs racetrack.David L Ryan/Globe Staff/File

So Boston made Amazon’s not-so-short list in the HQ2 Hunger Games. But what “Boston” means in this context remains an open question. Other cities and states have pushed particular sites, or specific incentive packages. Here, well, we still need to sort those things out.

On the location front, Amazon narrowed its list of local contenders to Boston and Somerville. The city of Boston’s proposal focuses on the Suffolk Downs racetrack, a 161-acre site on the Revere border with key advantages: no complex ownership issues, two Blue Line stops, an international airport around the corner.

But the knock on Suffolk Downs is that it’s not centrally located for commuters or next to the tech companies and universities that make Boston attractive (or Amazon’s existing local offices, for that matter). City officials say they’re open to discussing other sites with Amazon, including a constellation of smaller properties closer to downtown that earned brief mentions in their bid. The Baker administration, meanwhile, has promoted multiple places in Boston to Amazon, several within striking distance of South Station.


The rival Somerville bid also includes more than one option. Somerville officials envision building around the Orange and Green lines, with pieces of the campus going up separately, over time, near various stations.

As far as incentives go, we won’t match the $7 billion proposed for a Newark campus or the $5 billion floated in Maryland. Boston’s fate in this contest hinges on how Amazon can best harness the talent in this region’s workforce. The final location could make all the difference in pulling that off.

Jon Chesto is a Globe reporter. Reach him at jon.chesto@globe.com and follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.