fb-pixel;
opinion | Steve Pagliuca and Richard Davey

Use the Olympic bid to catalyze the city

For Boston 2024, bidding for the Olympic and Paralympic Games was always about creating positive legacies for our city. And that’s what we now hope to achieve.

We are confident that our planning for the Games, including our vision for Widett Circle and Columbia Point, will benefit Boston, Mayor Walsh’s important 2030 planning process, and other civic conversations around the future of Boston’s neighborhoods and economic vitality.

Our challenge now is to make sure that all the hard work and innovative thinking that went into developing Bid 2.0 is marshaled to advance important economic development, housing, infrastructure, and job creation opportunities throughout Boston and the Commonwealth.

To be sure, hosting the Games would have brought transformational benefits to Boston: 8,000 new units of housing, tens of thousands of new jobs, new tax revenues to fund city priorities, and so much more. With Bid 2.0, our fiscally responsible plan for privately financed Games that included unprecedented safeguards to manage the risks associated with hosting, we had constructed a viable strategy for building a better Boston spawned by hosting the world’s greatest sporting event in the world’s greatest sports city.

Having spent countless hours on and committed tireless efforts to the city’s bid, is the Boston 2024 team disappointed that our hometown will not host the Games? Absolutely. But what we have accomplished in pursuing the opportunity can still be the impetus for a thrilling new future for Boston.

Advertisement



That can, and must, be the legacy of Boston 2024. This bid was never about 29 days in the summer of 2024. It was always about the next several decades of Boston’s life. And Boston 2024 demonstrated that this city has the confidence, the resources, and the vision to pursue a future of shared prosperity and development — one we believed, to be sure, the Games would have advanced, but one we should still pursue in their absence.

The young people who were drawn to the bid were a special source of inspiration to Boston 2024. From our first hire, Erin Murphy Rafferty, to our last, Andrew Won, and all the staffers in between, they shared our passion for the economic and social impact the Games would bring to building a better Boston. Twenty-five staffers took risks and interrupted careers to join a movement in which they believed. They embraced a calling to find solutions to the city’s challenges through the process of pursuing the Games.

Advertisement



We faced aging and inadequate transportation infrastructure. We still do. Widett Circle was underutilized and underdeveloped. It still is. Mayor Walsh’s housing goals remain, as do the needs for jobs and sustainable growth that includes gateway communities.

These challenges also revealed opportunities. We showed, for example, how areas like Columbia Point and Widett Circle could be revitalized. Boston 2024 underscored the presence of deep and innovative economic sectors, from technology to tourism.

What we need now is the vision and energy, even amid disappointment for those of us who supported our bid, to continue a conversation about an innovative, inclusive future for our city as we power into our fifth century together. The challenges we face are real, the opportunities greater still. Boston 2024 illuminated both.

Our bid for the Games reminded us of the bonds and civic pride we share, a pride that especially inspires the young leaders building Boston’s future. The bid unified diverse communities behind a shared vision, from Sportsmen’s Tennis and Enrichment Center at Harambee Park in Dorchester to the proposed sailing site in New Bedford, from an aspiring Olympic long jumper in Dorchester to a hopeful Olympic soccer goalie in Newton. Business leaders and labor leaders found a goal behind which they could unite, too. The strong partnership with Mayor Walsh and the collaboration with Governor Baker shifted conversations from where our city has been to where we can be. The spirit of collaboration that Boston 2024 enabled must continue after the bid.

Advertisement



The Olympic torch may not be coming to Boston in 2024. If we are willing to harness the spirit that pursued the Games, the vision of Boston 2024 — an even more thriving, vital, and inclusive Boston — is still within our reach.

Steve Pagliuca is chairman and Richard Davey is CEO of Boston 2024 Partnership.