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Yes

Rodney M. Elliott, mayor of Lowell

Lowell Mayor Rodney M. Elliott
Lowell Mayor Rodney M. Elliott handout

The opportunity for athletes to compete in the pinnacle of sports comes only once every four years at the Olympic Games. It is a chance for athletes to showcase their talents and compete against the best in the world. This is also true of the host city and those lucky enough to be a part of it.

Boston should host the 2024 Olympic Games. It would bring a major economic boost to the entire state. There is existing infrastructure and university venues to use for events. Surrounding cities such as Lowell have experience planning successfully for large events, as does Boston. Making use of what we have in place is what makes the Boston bid so unique and exciting.

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Tourism would drastically increase in the entire region. Transportation would be improved in the years leading up to the games. The MBTA service in and around Boston would become quicker, more efficient, and reach more destinations outside of Boston proper.

Roads, bridges, and highways also would be improved. Lowell would build an additional bridge over the Merrimack River. As someone who lives in the neighborhood that would be most impacted by the games and the resulting addition of a new bridge, I can say with confidence another bridge is drastically needed. It would reduce traffic and improve one of the worst intersections in the state.

With the 7,800 seat Tsongas Arena, boxing events can showcase Lowell’s unique history in that sport. The Merrimack River in Lowell hosts annual rowing events bringing crowds up to 5,000 and would be perfect for Olympic rowing. The annual Lowell Folk Festival brings 100,000 or more people to the city.

For years to come, as records are set, sportscasters will mention that the time to beat was recorded in Boston at the 2024 Olympics. You can’t put a price on that type of publicity. The honor of hosting the games, the improvements that will take place to host the games, and the regional economic boost that will benefit Massachusetts for years after the Olympics are worth the effort.

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I fully expect after people have had the chance to visit the city of Lowell, our one-time slogan “There’s a lot to like about Lowell” will never be truer. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime and I hope we don’t let it pass us by.

No

Claire Blechman, Somerville, No Boston Olympics

Claire Blechman
Claire Blechman handout

The Olympics would be a monumental mistake for Boston, the metro area, and the entire state. There are no proven economic benefits to hosting the Olympics, and the drawbacks are devastating: massive debt, white elephant stadiums, crippling crowds, and even civil liberties abuses.

When Boston 2024 — an unelected group of business interests — submits its bid on our behalf to the International Olympic Committee, we will be committing to make those Olympics happen, no matter the cost. Since 2000, the average Summer Games has cost $19.2 billion, seven times Boston’s annual city budget. According to a study by economists at Oxford University, every Olympics since 1960 has overrun its initial budget. The Oxford study found the average cost overrun of an Olympic Games is a whopping 179 percent.

When costs balloon and private money inevitably runs short, the host community is contractually obligated to pick up the tab. In Vancouver (2010), the private developer pulled out of building the Olympic Village, and the city was on the hook for a “billion dollar disaster.” In London (2012), the private security contractor failed to hire enough guards, and the military deployed an extra 1,200 troops at British taxpayers’ expense. In Montreal (1976), the Olympics ran so far over budget — $1.5 billion US — that the city was paying off its debt for 30 years.

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According to Boston 2024’s own bid documents, the total price tag — including all operational, infrastructure, construction, and security costs — will be $14.3 billion, almost exactly the same as the Big Dig.

What could we do with an extra $14.3 billion? Pay off the MBTA’s debt and buy all new train cars? Provide free housing for the homeless? Build a north-south rail link? Whatever your pleasure, that money is better spent on projects to benefit our local communities, not on throwing a massive three-week party.

If we “win” the Olympics, we will spend the next nine years and every last dollar building temporary stadiums instead of affordable housing and schools. We’ll spend our time policing IOC sponsors’ brand sanctity instead of our neighborhoods, and marking off dedicated road lanes for IOC officials instead of developing plans to alleviate congested traffic.

The Olympics will not be Boston’s problem alone. Across the state, our plans will be put on hold, our money funneled into the Olympic effort. We have to think about our priorities, and plan our future for the long term, starting today.

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Globe correspondent Brenda Buote solicited opinions for this exchange. She can be reached at brenda.buote@gmail.com.