Many had been waiting and hoping for it, as a validation of Boston’s world-class appeal and global potential. Others had dreaded the possibility, worried that it would be a costly boondoggle.
And when the United States Olympic Committee picked the Hub on Thursday — ahead of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington — for its bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games, Bostonians greeted the announcement with mixed feelings that ranged from pride to concern.
Supporters shrugged off the naysayers, who complained that the city is too small to potentially host tens of thousands of athletes and spectators and who wondered whether Boston could afford such a spectacular event.
Hanna Pinsky, a 21-year-old Brookline resident visiting the Prudential Center, said the city is stronger and much more unified, after having pulled through the Boston Marathon bombings.
“Hosting the Olympics would illuminate Boston’s strength and make it more of an internationally known city,’’ she said.
Never mind that Boston is not as large as its competitors Los Angeles and San Francisco, she said. The city can handle the crowds.
“If London, being one of the most populated cities, could host the Olympics, I don’t see why Boston would have a problem,’’ Pinsky said.
But as news of the announcement wound through the city, not everyone was pleased.
Members of the group No Boston Olympics said the city and the region had always thrived on their own terms. They contend city officials have the responsibility to embrace policies that grow the economy, improve education, and make a real difference in people’s lives.
Hosting the Olympics accomplishes none of these things, the group said in a statement.
“In fact, it threatens to divert resources and attention away from these challenges — all for a chance to host an event that economists say does not leave local economies better off. The boosters behind Boston 2024 won today — but our Commonwealth is poorer for it,’’ No Boston Olympics said.
Elected officials greeted the news with enthusiasm, saying it is the first of many steps to bring the Olympics to the city. Mayor Martin J. Walsh hailed the decision as an “exceptional honor for Boston.”
City Council president Bill Linehan also lauded the development, but cautioned that there is much more work to be done to win community support and build momentum before a final decision in 2017.
“We need to get out to the community and talk to folks about what this means for the city to get the Olympic Games,’’ Linehan said. “Because this is only one step in a series of steps to potentially host the Olympics in the City of Boston.”
Councilor Josh Zakim also warned of the long road ahead, saying he is proud of Boston for being chosen.
“We’ve heard a little bit from folks,’’ Zakim said. “We want to make sure folks aren’t being displaced and we want to make sure everyone has a voice in the process.”
Still, the celebration continued Thursday night. In Roxbury, Councilor Tito Jackson said the decision only confirms Bostonians’ view of their city.
“The US Olympic Committee concurred with what we already know about how great the city of Boston is,’’ Jackson said. “This is a great opportunity for the international community to see the great things the city of Boston has to offer.”
Councilor Matt O’Malley, whose district includes West Roxbury, said Boston’s proposal is appealing because it envisions an Olympics that uses very little public funds. He said the process going forward should be open and transparent to ensure that remains the goal.
“As a local city officials we need to make sure we are stewards of public funds,’’ he said. “If we are able to achieve that goal at very little and no cost to the taxpayer to achieve that endeavor, then it’s an exciting night for Boston.”
Residents Thursday were still warming to the Olympic Committee’s decision.
Ian McCallister, a 56-year-old Franklin resident, said he has mixed feelings. He is a runner, he said, and it would be nice to have a large athletic event in Boston.
But “it’s hard to imagine it working here,’’ McCallister said. “There are lots of drawbacks financially. Boston is so crowded. What would we do with all of the additional people?”
Joyce Lee, a 37-year-old Bostonian, thinks the possibility of Boston serving as Olympics host is a bad idea.
“Boston is a huge city with a thousand landmarks,’’ she said. “We already have all of the attention and tourism we need.”
Anna Porter, another 33-year-old resident, said if it is done properly, this could be a boon for improvements in Boston.
“But I doubt that will happen,’’ she added. “Seems like an unnecessary amount of money for something Boston doesn’t really need.”