To Boston 2024 organizers, the glitzy bid book they showed the US Olympic Committee was just a “proof of concept” — a signal the city understood the challenges of putting on the Summer Games. Once Boston emerged as the official US bidder, those detailed documents became a liability in winning over the public, for they let on that organizers consulted with stakeholders far more closely than they did.
The bid book contains some bold, appealing notions. But other proposals diverge from neighborhood plans hammered out over years. Not to worry, organizers insist. “I have no doubt that venues that were in our bid will change,” says Rich Davey, CEO of Boston 2024. “Our eventual bid to the [International Olympic Committee] will not look like our bid to the USOC.” Yet it’s fair to ask how such changes will affect the Games’ ultimate costs, and how easily organizers can pivot to alternate sites. “Everything’s flexible,” says Steve Hollinger, a Fort Point resident who took part in a long planning process in his neighborhood, “and then suddenly the concrete might set.”
Olympic supporters will cut Boston 2024 some slack; even New York’s failed bid for the 2012 Games led to the rezoning of vast areas that are now filling in with needed development. But for now, Boston 2024 and Mayor Marty Walsh are in an odd spot, selling a big idea while insisting the specifics are up in the air. Bostonians are skeptical by temperament. Olympic organizers need to figure out how to revise their plans in public, and in real time.
Globe staff and wire photos/istockphoto; Heather Hopp-Bruce/James Abundis/Globe staff