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Boston 2024 brings its Olympics campaign to BC

NEWTON — Organizers of the bid to host the Olympic Games in Boston in 2024 continued to pitch their plan to the public on Wednesday night, presenting details of the initiative at Boston College.

Early in the meeting, Richard Davey, chief executive of Boston 2024 — the group that crafted the bid and released a revamped plan on Monday — asked the more than 100 in attendance for a show of hands of Olympic skeptics in the crowd. Roughly two dozen people raised a hand.

Among the opponents was Sheila Berenson of Brookline, who asked about potential cost overruns during the public comment period. The revamped bid calls for spending $4.6 billion, which counts on $4 billion in private sector investment, along with $775 million in taxpayer-financed transportation projects, which the committee maintains are needed with or without the Olympics.


“What if it becomes $5 billion?” Berenson asked of the Olympics budget. “Who’s paying for it? . . . This area is paying for the next 20 years for the Big Dig. We don’t want to get into that again.”

Davey said that not every Olympics has had cost overruns, noting that the last three Games held in the United States had surpluses. He said organizers of a Summer Olympics in Boston would take steps, including budget cuts and relying on insurance policies in the face of possible overruns, to ensure that taxpayers would be protected.

He said earlier in the meeting, which was held in BC’s Robsham Theater, that Boston 2024 is working with its legal team to finalize an insurance plan for the Games.

Another meeting attendee, Deborah Reiff of Brighton, also questioned the finances, asking how organizers can project a surplus of $210 million in light of the tax structure included in the plan.

The bid includes provisions for generous city tax breaks to promote development of 8,000 units of housing among 12 million square feet of new, permanent development at Widett Circle and Columbia Point in Boston, along with new hotels, neighborhood amenities, and a city park where a temporary Olympic stadium would stand.


Davey said the tax agreements, which would be subject to public negotiations with the City of Boston, are needed to spur the level of development envisioned in the plan. He said Boston has more than 100 such agreements with developers.

While few people voiced unequivocal support, some of those attending said the Games could be a boon to the region if hosting them would meet the projections that Boston 2024 gave at the meeting.

Davey and other presenters described benefits they said the Games could bring, including job creation; the revitalization of neighborhoods; improved public transportation, including much-needed upgrades to the MBTA; and enhanced public parks and green spaces.

Besides cost concerns, members of the public raised questions including the environmental impact of the Games, gentrification that could harm low-income communities, and on whether union labor would be used on construction.

Davey emphasized that at least 13 percent of the new housing units would be deemed affordable, union labor would be used on major projects, and that organizers are researching ways to ensure the Games have as neutral a carbon footprint as possible.

One of those attending Wednesday night’s meeting was former governor Michael S. Dukakis, who did not speak during the gathering.

The next public meeting is scheduled for July 9 at the Cafe at Marina Bay in Quincy.


Mark Arsenault of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.