For Marathon hosts, a mixed finish on costs

The men’s start at last year’s race. The Boston Athletic Association has been upping its payments to host communities.
Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/File
The men’s start at last year’s race. The Boston Athletic Association has been upping its payments to host communities.

The Boston Athletic Association this year will hand out a total of $858,000 to the eight cities and towns along the Boston Marathon route to reimburse costs associated with hosting the 117-year-old race and help fund community programs.

For some of the communities, that contribution covers the whole cost of hosting the 26.2 mile race, which not only draws tens of thousands of runners but hundreds of thousands of spectators who line the streets to watch the Patriots Day tradition. This year’s installment is set for April 15.

But as the race moves toward Boston, or through communities with longer stretches and more cross streets, the costs can increase.


“People need more medical attention at mile 13, 14, and 15 than they do at mile 2 or 3,” said Hans Larsen, Wellesley’s executive director. “And the crowds get bigger.”

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In Wellesley, which will receive $44,000 from the BAA this year, the contribution does not cover all of the prerace preparation and planning, extensive police and fire coverage on race day, and the cleanup after the crowds leave.

“The BAA makes a significant contribution toward defraying the costs, but it doesn’t cover everything,” Larsen said.

The town’s costs also include beautifying downtown by repainting road lines, cleaning sidewalks, and repairing roads, according to Terrance Connolly, deputy director in Larsen’s office.

According to Larsen, towns “made a concerted effort” to get more money several years ago, and the BAA responded by increasing the amount given to each of the eight communities along the Marathon route between Hopkinton and Boston.


“More and more is coming each year,” he said.

In addition, the BAA has increased the number of official race entries it gives to the host communities. The “waivers’’ are coveted by runners who could not otherwise take part in the Marathon. “Wellesley received 20 waivers, and these are used as good fund-raising opportunities,” Larsen said. “That’s another contribution.”

This year’s BAA financial contribution is up 7 percent from last year, according to an announcement by the organization, and it expects to spend $2.7 million from 2013 to 2015 reimbursing cities and towns for race expenses.

“The contributions are allocated on a burden formula,” said Tom Grilk, executive director of the BAA, with the communities absorbing the longest routes or serving key roles getting the most funds.

“The whole production is a shared partnership,” Grilk said. “It’s amazing how many town officials, organizations, and people take this personally and want to get it right.”


Grilk said the funds that go to the communities come from the event’s principal sponsor, John Hancock Financial Services.

‘It’s amazing how many town officials, organizations, and people take this personally and want to get it right.’

Mary Ellen Kelley, Framingham’s chief financial officer, said its $44,000 payment from the BAA is not enough to cover her town’s expenses, especially because of the overtime needed to pay police to patrol the route on race day and firefighters on duty in case of emergency.

“We have a lot of crossroads along the route and the railroad, which need to be covered,” she said.

Framingham puts the entire BAA allotment into the town’s general fund, and doesn’t earmark any of it for specific programs.

Hopkinton, where runners converge for the race’s start in the center of town, will receive $85,000 this year. It traditionally has money left from the BAA’s contribution, according to Jamie Hellen, operations assistant in the town manager’s office.

Hopkinton plays a big role in the race, and the Parks and Recreation Department, which oversees the town common where there are activities set up before the race, bears the brunt of the expenditures, Hellen said.

But over the past several years, he said, the town has managed to have about $10,000 to $15,000 left after race costs are paid. The surplus is portioned out by the town’s Marathon Fund Committee, and is used to fund six scholarships and various programs throughout town each year.

In the past the money has provided new helmets for the high school’s hockey team, and programs at the senior center.

Natick and Ashland this year will each receive $44,000, which local officials said will totally cover expenses and leave a surplus.

Last year the surplus from the BAA contribution in Natick totaled $17,046, and was given to the Recreation and Parks Department for programs and small capital projects, according to Town Administrator Martha White.

She said the surplus has been used in the past to improve the docks at the town beach, among other things.

“We love being one of the towns on the route. It’s a little disruptive for downtown businesses on race day, but we’re proud to be a part of it,” White said.

In Ashland the surplus funds came in at just under $6,000 last year, according to Susan Robie, executive assistant in the town manager’s office.. “We don’t get as much left over as we’d like, but it’s something,” she said.

In the past the money has been used to start a swim team at Ashland High School, help with equipment and expenses for various town youth sports leagues, and for exercise programs at the senior center.

In Brookline, Assistant Town Administrator Melissa Goff said the town will receive $50,000 this year, and that covers all the costs associated with the race.

Brookline covers the Marathon expenses though its operating budget, and the entire BAA gift goes into a trust to pay for Park and Recreation Department and community events such as last year’s Brookline Days.

This year’s allotment to Newton is $85,000, the same as Hopkinton’s. Bob Rooney, the city’s chief operating officer, said the money provided by the BAA roughly covers the costs of hosting the race, the bulk of which is overtime pay for police officers along the course.

Each year, however, the city dedicates about $20,000 to use toward matching Parent Teacher Organization funds to replace or add equipment at elementary school playgrounds, he said.

“We felt that would be a positive thing, a good outcome of the Marathon running through Newton,” Rooney said.

Ellen Ishkanian can be reached at eishkanian@gmail.com.