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Walsh, officials vow cost-effective Olympics

An upbeat group of political leaders and the organizers of Boston’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Games vowed Friday to be transparent during the planning process, and also predicted that some 70 percent of the venues used would be on college campuses.

“I am wicked excited, and Boston is wicked excited,’’ said John Fish, who has emerged as the leader of the privately financed Boston 2024, which submitted the winning bid to the United States Olympic Committee.

Fish said that 70 to 75 percent of the sporting venues will be on college campuses.

At a news conference in Boston, Mayor Martin J. Walsh and newly sworn-in Governor Charlie Baker outlined the next steps in the high-profile effort.


Walsh said there would be at least nine community meetings in Boston in the coming months.

“Wow,’’ Walsh said. “Can you believe this?”

Walsh then turned to Baker, who took his oath of office Thursday and said, “What a way to start your term!’’

Walsh vowed transparency and promised that Boston residents — “in every corner of this city” — will be given a chance to voice their concerns during the planning process that was being launched in earnest Friday.

“We are going to answer every question asked of us over the next nine months until every Bostonian and probably everybody in the Commonwealth will understand what the impacts of the Olympics will be on the community, what the benefits will be, and what it means to be an Olympic city,’’ Walsh said.

Walsh added, “I promise that this will be the most transparent and inclusive process in Olympic history. ... We’re not here to ram this down people’s throats.’’

Baker described the Olympic effort as a planning opportunity, saying no one should be surprised that Boston was selected. He said the bid gave Boston and Massachusetts the opportunity to become “a shining example” of how to manage the complex process.


“This is the start of the race. This is where it begins,’’ Baker said. He said there would be an “opportunity for robust and thorough debate.’’

A reporter asked Walsh if the Olympics should be put to a vote, noting that the mayor had been pushing for the neighborhood of Charlestown to have the opportunity to vote on the casino planned for neighboring Everett.

“This is very different,” Walsh said. “The Olympics we would bring to Boston is not just going to be in the city of Boston.’’

Walsh was asked if there would be a referendum on the Olympics in Boston.

“No referendum,” Walsh said.

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Walsh and Fish said the general plan was to use facilities across the region — from Lowell north of Boston to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough south of the city — as Olympic venues.

Both Walsh and Fish also vowed to create a cost-effective Olympics that will use public money in ways that government planning has already identified as necessary. “Whether or not we get an Olympic bid, we have to upgrade our public transportation,” Walsh said. “I am not going to use public money – city money – to build an aquatic center.’’

Walsh vowed that the cost of the project — or any debt that results — will not be paid for by Boston taxpayers.

The USOC announced Thursday after a meeting at Denver International Airport that it would back Boston’s Olympic bid over those from San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and two-time Olympic host Los Angeles.


Larry Probst, chairman of the United States Olympic Committee, on Friday applauded Boston’s success.

“This journey has just begun,’’ Probst cautioned. “The hard work starts now.”

During the next 2½ years, it will be part of a competition that could include some of the most significant cities in the world: Paris, Rome, Hamburg or Berlin, Budapest, and Istanbul. There could be competition from South Africa, from Doha in Qatar, from Baku in Azerbaijan, and from other cities or regions attracted by new rules intended to make it easier to host the Games. A winner will be chosen in 2017.

The International Olympic Committee will choose the host city for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games and Paralympic Games at a meeting scheduled for Lima in 2017.

The United States has not hosted any Olympics since the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. The last Summer Olympics in the United States were the 1996 Atlanta Games.

The contest to be the 2024 host will be held under the IOC’s new bidding guidelines, known as Agenda 2020, which the organization approved late last year. With an eye toward holding down the cost of staging the Olympics, the reforms say the IOC will look favorably on the use of existing sports facilities as well as relatively low-cost temporary venues.

Boston’s compact Olympic bid leans heavily on existing venues, such as TD Garden and college facilities, including Harvard Stadium, Boston College’s Conte Forum, and Boston University’s Agganis Arena.


Current plans call for a temporary Olympic stadium at Widett Circle, along Interstate 93 near Frontage Road south of downtown, for opening and closing ceremonies and track and field events. An Olympic village to house the athletes is planned for the former Bayside Expo grounds, with units eventually converted to workforce housing or student dorms for the University of Massachusetts Boston.

(John R. Ellement of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.) Andrew Ryan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @globeandrewryan.

Mark Arsenault can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @bostonglobemark