Boston 2024 settles debts, closes books
Two months after shutting down, the defunct Olympic bid committee, Boston 2024, has reached agreements with its vendors and settled its leftover debts, according to a spokesman for the committee.
The debt was retired with additional cash donated by former bid leaders and committee members, as well as the largesse of vendors who agreed to take less than they were owed. In taking less, the vendors will consider unpaid work to be donations to the lost cause of bringing the Olympic Games to Boston.
“Every outstanding obligation that we know of has been resolved,” said Doug Rubin, of the political consulting firm Northwind Strategies, which worked for Boston 2024 and is among those vendors who forgave debt.
Settling debt may mark a quiet finale for one of the most discussed and polarizing organizations in recent memory.
The committee proposed an ambitious vision to host the 2024 Summer Games in and around the city, while creating two Boston neighborhoods largely from scratch. The US Olympic Committee in January defied many expert predictions and chose Boston to represent the United States in the global competition for the Games.
But the public never got fully behind the effort, and poor poll numbers doomed the bid. In late July, with support lagging below 50 percent, the effort collapsed.
The USOC quickly regrouped after the Boston failure, naming two-time Olympic host Los Angeles as the US bid city for 2024. LA’s international competitors are Paris, Rome, Hamburg, and Budapest.
The Globe reported several weeks ago that internal Boston 2024 documents suggested the local bid committee had closed shop with more than $4 million in outstanding payroll obligations and unpaid invoices, and $571,000 in cash on hand. People familiar with the bid’s finances have claimed that the documents contained errors and that the original debt was never that high.
Elkus Manfredi Architects, a key firm in the design of the Olympic venue plan, was one of Boston 2024’s largest creditors. The firm forgave “a very, very big percentage” of what it was owed, Rubin said.
In an interview, David Manfredi, founding principal of Elkus Manfredi, confirmed, “We have settled everything with Boston 2024 and we are happy with the resolution.”
Manfredi was a prominent figure in Boston’s Olympic bid, as one of the first professionals recruited to the effort. Despite the bid’s outcome, he said, “for us as a firm and for me personally, the experience was very, very positive.”
He said he hopes the city will pursue some of the urban design proposals to come out of Boston 2024.
One outstanding bill Boston 2024 did not have to settle: The $7,500 owed to the David Ortiz Children’s Fund. That obligation was paid by real estate magnate Peter Palandjian, an early Boston 2024 supporter. He said he decided to personally pay the debt because he didn’t think the Red Sox slugger’s foundation, which provides pediatric health care in New England and the Dominican Republic, should feel any fallout from the Boston bid.
Boston 2024 had bought a table at a gala for the Ortiz fund, but hadn’t paid up when the bid shut down. Ortiz had was a volunteer member of the committee’s board of directors and starred in a Web video promoting Boston 2024.
“My company and my family have always supported children’s causes,” said Palandjian, who donated more than $100,000 to Boston 2024. “It’s hard not to get swept up by anything David Ortiz does. It was a little bit of a spur-of-the-moment donation.”
The US has not hosted an Olympics since the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. The last Summer Olympics in the US were the 1996 Atlanta Games.
The International Olympic Committee plans to choose the 2024 host in 2017.