Just Say No to a Boston Olympics
Idea is preposterous
Stop the madness. Please. Can we have no more noise about the Olympics coming to Boston in 2024? Can we cease and desist with the preposterous notion that this is a reasonable, fiscally-feasible project?
We do not need the Summer Olympics. We already are a world-class city. What we need is bridge repair, housing, better public schools, an improved MBTA, and programs for the disenfranchised. We need better ways to get in and out of our city. We do not need an event that would strangle us financially and logistically for decades.
Along with Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., Boston is one of four American cities still alive in bidding for the 2024 Summer Games. Sometime next year, the US Olympic Committee will decide if it wants to advance a bid in front of the International Olympic Committee. That city would compete with bids from around the world and the ever-corrupt IOC will choose the 2024 host in 2017.
We need to Just Say No to all Boston-Olympic nonsense. Several of my sports colleagues have explained the folly of this notion, but still I see an editorial headlined, “Olympic decision is tribute to hard work, civic cohesiveness.’’
The piece included a laundry list of deal-breakers that Boston’s pro-Olympic folks apparently consider minor problems:
“The exploratory committee determined that the Boston area . . . would need to add four major pieces of infrastructure: an 80,000-person Olympic Stadium, a 100-acre Olympic village to house 16,500 athletes, and special venues for cycling and aquatics.’’
Huh? Seriously? All we need is a little 80,000-seat stadium? That should be no problem. It’s like building a tiny guard shack in front of the New Garden on Causeway Street, right? Do the Krafts get to keep the place for their football/futbol teams when the Olympics are over?
Oh, I’m pretty sure we could tuck the $2 billion Olympic village somewhere into the Back Bay, or the South End. Wonder if resident parking stickers will work during the 2024 Games?
Get a grip, people.
Could Boston host the Olympics?
Of course we could.
Do we want to host the Olympics? Do we need to host the Olympics?
We already are on the global map. We’ve got the history, hospitals, institutions of higher learning, and the championship sports teams. We are not needy Atlanta, trying to make the big time and failing miserably in 1996. And we don’t spend public money on sporting venues or events.
Just for kicks, I ran the Olympic idea past a Boston business tycoon — a local lifer who has dealt with all the big shots on the business and political scenes.
“The Olympics in Boston would probably finish the city off for good,’’ he said, calmly.
It’s not as simple as assigning varied competitions to local colleges and arenas. You can’t have the swimming at Harvard just because Harvard happens to have an Olympic-size pool. You have to build a massive aquatic center with diving pools, warm-up pools, spectator stands, and media workplaces. You can’t feature the cycling at the Hampton Beach Casino. You have to build a velodrome. And what are you going to do with this Olympic village, aquatic center, and velodrome when the Olympics are over? Folks in Brazil just forked over millions of dollars for multiple soccer stadiums that will be empty when the World Cup is done.
Think the Big Dig was bad? This would be the Big Dig times 10.
The world today is peppered with wonderful cities still paying for Olympic Games and wishing the five rings never had invaded their boundaries. Talk to folks in Montreal (1976), Atlanta (1996), Athens (2004), and London (2012). Rome was smart enough to withdraw from consideration for the 2020 Games and there’s a surge to pull out of bidding for the 2022 Winter Games.
Autocratic societies are the new best bet for the fussy/money-is-no-object IOC. Folks in China and Russia had no say in their international boondoggles with the IOC. After initial projections of $12 billion, Vladimir Putin’s Winter Games in Sochi cost $51 billion.
Transportation? We can’t get from Dorchester to Nantasket Beach on Friday afternoons in July. Try to imagine Boston in summer with the Olympics in town. Charlie Cards all around. Everyman would “ride forever ’neath the streets of Boston” and be “the man who never returned.’’
Let’s not even get started with the need for tens of thousands of “volunteers,” the accommodation of 15,000 journalists, and the massive task of counterterrorism.
Sorry to say this, but if you believe in the Olympics in Boston you are either hopelessly naive, or you stand to profit from the venture. Since I believe in the goodness of all mankind, I choose to believe that everyone in favor of this hideous project is simply naive.
The list of the naive would include an 11-member Boston Olympics exploratory committee headed by John Fish, who also happens to be the CEO of Suffolk Construction. In interviews with Globe columnist Shirley Leung, Fish has stated he would not recuse himself from bidding for Olympic construction if Boston was awarded the Games. Two weeks ago, he told Leung, “I wouldn’t say no to that. I want to be clear. It’s not about John Fish and Suffolk Construction.’’ More recently, Fish said he would give “serious consideration’’ to recusing himself from the bidding if his apparent conflict was a sticking point in Boston’s bid for the Games.
Everybody OK with that?
Stop now. Even a failed bid can cost tens of millions of dollars. Bid consultants will be getting rich while you sit in traffic.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com.