Governor Charlie Baker, increasingly impatient with the lack of detail in Boston’s troubled Olympic bid, is warning that organizers need to articulate a more complete venue and finance plan by early next month.
Baker voiced his concerns at a private meeting with his top campaign donors at the Taj Boston hotel Tuesday, where, one attendee said, “he was in a blunt mood.”
In an interview Wednesday, the governor reiterated the need for swift action, adding to the pressure that is mounting on Boston 2024 to release a new plan that responds to the concerns voiced over the last several months by landlords, neighborhood groups, and residents.
Baker said it is critical that the public be given ample time to review the revised plan before Sept. 15, when the United States Olympic Committee must send the International Olympic Comittee an official letter confirming Boston’s Olympic bid. He called the timing pressures “kind of self-evident.”
“If you need time to vet it with all of the various interested parties, which I think is appropriate, then that backs you up to probably late May or early June to have something that people can chew on,” the governor said.
Asked Wednesday whether he thought organizers were on track to meet that timeline, Baker replied, “Don’t know.”
Boston 2024, which is considering a leadership change to reboot its unsettled bid, said that it plans to release a revised plan next month after getting an earful from residents at a series of community meetings across the city.
The bid committee is “in total agreement with the governor — he’s right,” chief executive Richard A. Davey said Wednesday.
“We’ve been working really hard on the detailed plan,” Davey said, adding that he expects the group to present the plan for public review in June.
“It will [contain] a specific path forward for both the stadium and the athletes’ village, which are by far the largest in terms of size and cost among the venues,” he said. “We’re really refining the cost structures, how they will be privately financed, what infrastructure upgrades could be made, what type of legacy could be left behind.”
The plan will also lay out proposed changes in locations for some of the smaller sports venues, Davey said. “We feel good about the direction these plans are headed,” he said. “We want the public review. We want the public scrutiny.”
Baker, who has remained officially neutral on the Olympic effort, has often said his ultimate support for the effort will hinge on the particulars of those plans.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh, a strong supporter who nonetheless has privately expressed his own rising frustrations with the bid’s organizers, said he shares Baker’s desire to see a revised plan as soon as possible, but was not ready to impose any deadlines.
He said Wednesday that he received frequent briefings from Boston 2024 officials, and knows the bid team is developing a new venue plan that reflects feedback gathered from residents at a series of community meetings.
Those meetings need to continue, Walsh said. He also said he has urged Boston 2024 to clearly lay out a timeline for the development of the bid plan. “I know people are working on that,” he said.
But Baker is clearly growing exasperated with the lack of specifics from Boston 2024, which has not revamped its plans since releasing artists’ renderings of venues and “proof of concept” documents in January.
On Tuesday, he addressed the issue in response to a question from one of the more than 130 donors gathered at the quarterly meeting of his campaign finance committee.
Another attendee said that, due to the setting, Baker “might have been a little more candid and off the cuff. The comfort level with the people in the room, he’s known them for years.”
The first attendee summarized Baker’s message as: “There’s probably going to have to be a plan pretty quickly, because time is running out.”
A third attendee said of Baker: “He simply said, ‘There is no plan. We haven’t seen a plan. We haven’t seen anything regarding finances or venues, and they need a plan, and they’re running out of time. And then the USOC has to make a decision.’ ”
Baker did not say what might happen if Boston 2024 fails to meet his deadline. This attendee said, “He placed it more at the feet of the USOC, that they’re going to have to make a decision.”
Baker elaborated on that point in the interview Wednesday, but emphasized that his words of warning were not based on any conversations with the US or international committes.
“I’m assuming that, in the end, the IOC will make its decision based on whoever it thinks has the best plan for the activities themselves, and that’s why I’m anxious to see the plan and I think a lot of other people are, too,” he said.
With polls indicating that fewer than half of residents support Boston’s bid for the Games, the Globe reported Sunday that Boston 2024 may replace chairman John Fish, a construction executive, with Steve Pagliuca, a Bain Capital executive and Boston Celtics co-owner. Fish would become a vice chairman.
The shakeup may also install Larry Lucchino, president and chief executive of the Boston Red Sox, and Jack Connors, the retired chairman of advertising giant Hill Holliday, as senior advisers to Boston 2024. The bid group has not announced any reorganization.
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