No plans to decide on Olympics until review is complete, Baker says
Governor Charlie Baker reiterated Friday that he plans to remain neutral on Boston’s Olympic bid until a consulting firm hired by the state issues a report on the bid’s finances early next month.
“It would be inappropriate for me, or for the Senate president, or for the speaker, to commit the Commonwealth one way or the other until we get that report,” Baker said at a State House press conference, his first since returning from a Republican Governors Association meeting in Colorado this week. “I appreciate that the timing in all this is frustrating.”
Baker has said repeatedly that the Brattle Group’s report will help him decide whether to support the bid, which could give it a major lift, or reject it, which could effectively kill the effort.
But his insistence on deferring a decision could be troubling to US Olympic Committee officials, who want to shore up support for the struggling bid by a Sept. 15 deadline to official nominate Boston as the American bid city for the 2024 Summer Olympics.
Baker said he plans to speak to USOC leaders on Monday and will also tell them then that his decision on the bid will have to wait until the Brattle Group report, which is expected to explore the potential for cost overruns and financial liabilities that the state could face, if Boston were to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.
Jim Conroy, a senior adviser to Baker, said Olympic officials had not given the governor any ultimatum to make a decision on the bid. “The USOC has made no request to speak with the governor or anyone in our office prior to the scheduled meeting on Monday,” he said.
Turning to a central issue facing the bid, Baker emphasized that he, Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, and House speaker Robert A. DeLeo will not sign a limitless guarantee that the state would cover cost overruns from the Olympics.
“We’re not going to sign an open-ended commitment,” he said.
US Olympic Committee officials have said, however, that Mayor Martin J. Walsh would probably have to sign such a guarantee, if Boston is to compete for the 2024 Games against Rome, Paris, Hamburg, and Budapest, all of which have governments that heavily subsidize their bids.
Boston 2024 officials have said they plan on buying multiple layers of insurance to prevent cost overruns and taxpayer risk.