Boston’s Games will run rings around others
The 2024 Olympics have come to a close. Be proud, Boston, we pulled it off, showing the world that the Hub glows far brighter than merely that big flashing Citgo sign in Kenmore Square. For nearly three weeks, and an estimated $14 billion in debt, we were the shining light atop Olympus.
A few observations, look-backs, meanderings, and musings over the Games that were:
■ The Seaport’s dazzling $4 billion Olympic Stadium — admittedly shoehorned a bit snugly next to the Convention Center — was a boffo success. A stunning piece of architecture. And it will be made all the better when representatives from Montreal arrive with a plan on how to install a roof, as they ultimately did with their Olympic Stadium after the 1976 Games. We were so fortunate to hire their original architects, Craig, Crumble, and Fawl.
The unexpected amount of fog that constantly interrupted Boston 2024 track and field events, a function of chilly air blowing across warm harbor water at night, must be chalked up to the whimsy of Olympic gods.
“I don’t know about that,’’ noted former Sox pitcher Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd, proud son of Meridian, Miss. “What do you expect when you build a stadium so close to the Great Lakes?’’
Upward of 72,000 good seats remain available for next week’s Senior World Rodeo Championship.
■ “Fireball’’ Fred Wenz, the oft-scorched Sox reliever of the 1960s, was the perfect choice to light the cauldron. The Games began with a gargantuan, mesmerizing fireball, ol’ Fred’s torch never getting within so much as three feet of the cauldron. Age 83 and the guy remains magic.
■ Those clever kids at MIT. Genius. The town’s still scratching its head over how they hoisted an official Olympic transport bus to the top of the Dome.
“Really not very difficult,’’ said a sophomore Tech engineering major who requested her name not be published. “With so much gridlock, it’s not like the buses ever moved anyway.”
■ US Senator Tom Brady, delighted as he watched daughter Vivian complete the first triple tuck in Olympic gymnastics history, reiterated that he plans to quarterback the Patriots well into his 50s. Senator Brady, who is also CEO of Avacado Ice, turned 47 on Aug. 3. He and wife Gisele housed the full contingent of 713 USA athletes at their tidy Brookline manse.
■ IOC members, reticent at first, ended up fully embracing Boston’s new standard of measurement for all Olympic events. Henceforth, the terms “meters” and/or “yards” will be replaced by “smoots.” A few conversion charts remain available at Shaw’s supermarkets.
■ The building lot on Causeway Street, vacant since old Boston Garden was torn down a quarter-century ago, proved a lively gathering spot during downtown awards ceremonies. Delaware North Companies, now a half-century into owning the Bruins and the associated Causeway properties, promised another building plan for the vacant lot to be forthcoming. The site’s only trace of Olympic spirit remained a tattered five-ringed banner, with spokes spraypainted into each ring.
■ Rarely has the Hub been as gracious and forgiving as when Rosie Ruiz skipped blithely into the Olympic Stadium to present the gold medal for the Olympic half-marathon. A smiling Ruiz, now 71, looked every bit as fit as the day she won Boston in 1980.
■ No one was able to shake down Jordan’s for free furniture in its Olympic baseball challenge — modeled after the perennial marketing bonanza with the Red Sox. It was never realistic for anyone to hit the Jordan’s logo at Fenway, given that baseball wasn’t added to the 2024 menu. Fenway proved an interesting, successful fencing venue, matches squeezed in between Sox homestands vs. the Twins and Indians.
■ Had to feel for USA Track & Field coach Mortimer “Clete” Gautburnt after his downtrodden group of red-white-and-blue cinder men finished with a lone bronze medal for the Games, the worst showing in US Olympic history.
Worldwide ridicule of the Yanks was unrelenting and particularly embarrassing for a guy who in recent years has been the heart and soul of the American squad. You knew it was all too much when a disconsolate Gautburnt muttered, “Look, Jesse Owens is not walking through that door . . . what we are is young, exciting, hard-working . . . ’’
■ In Olympic outpost Foxborough, where fewer than 4,000 spectators trekked for five days of Olympic field hockey, there was minuscule return for the $350 million Olympic organizers were forced to spend on Route 1 infrastructure upgrades. The Patriots open their 2024 NFL season Sunday vs. the Colts.
Asked his opinion of what the Games meant to the city, Gillette, and the Krafts, ever-stoic coach Bill Belichick stared, shrugged, and said, “We’re moving on to Johannesburg.’’ The South African city will host the 2028 Games.
■ Carl Yastrzemski, who turned 85 the day the Games ended (Aug. 22), was the obvious choice to play master of closing ceremonies. Yaz waved graciously to the adoring crowd of 73,000 inside Olympic Stadium, a few of whom could be heard quietly humming, “The Impossible Dream.” In true Yaz fashion, he was across the Tobin Bridge and headed north while plumes of smoke lingered over the extinguished flame.
■ Co-mayors Jack Parker and Jerry York, who assumed the city’s top office from Marty Walsh in 2022, announced that Boston will bid for the 2038 Winter Games. The Olympic medals, hizzoners said, will be forged in the shape of a beanpot.