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Boston’s plans for the 2024 Summer Games probably will include staging some events outside Massachusetts, an approach that could mean early-round Olympic baseball at Yankee Stadium, basketball at Madison Square Garden, tennis on the courts where the US Open is played, and sailing off Newport, R.I.

A source familiar with Boston’s evolving bid said organizers have “held high-level conversations” with other cities about hosting events. New York and Washington, which both made unsuccessful pursuits for their own Games in recent years, are considered candidates for such a role.

While staging some events outside a host city’s boundaries has been commonplace for geographic reasons — mountains for skiing and oceans for sailing are often many miles from the Games’ epicenter — 2024 would be the first Olympics to follow new IOC guidelines, approved in December, that allow bid cities to stage “preliminary competitions outside the host city . . . notably for reasons of sustainability.”

The heart of the Games would remain in Boston with a single athletes’ village, 28 of 33 planned venues within a 10-kilometer radius and final rounds of the basketball, baseball, and soccer competitions at TD Garden, Fenway Park, and Gillette Stadium, respectively, said the source, who requested anonymity because the bidding process is at such a sensitive stage.


The IOC’s 40-point “Olympic Agenda 2020” allows for the inclusion of more sports — that is how baseball could be added to the 2020 and 2024 programs — and outlines a new bidding process designed to rein in costs, encourage use of existing and temporary facilities, and attract more host city candidates.

“Working with our national and international federations, if there was a compelling sport reason to look at alternative ideas, it’s certainly something worth considering,” said USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky in a statement about using existing venues outside Massachusetts. “Agenda 2020 and the IOC’s recent reforms have inspired and shaped our vision for the Games. Sustainability is paramount to the future of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and is a central element to the Boston 2024 bid. Existing venues and infrastructure will be used primarily, supplemented by new facilities in line with the city’s long-term civic vision.”


The IOC changes were driven by the $51 billion price tag for last year’s Winter Games in Sochi, the fact that there are only two bidders — Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan — for the 2022 Winter Games, and concerns about the exorbitant costs and long-term sustainability of staging the Games.

By following the IOC’s guidelines and taking advantage of existing world-class facilities in other cities, Boston 2024 organizers believe they can avoid the white elephant venues and out-of-control costs that have plagued Olympic hosts for decades.

Additionally, expanding the reach of the Games to different cities probably would generate more ticket and sponsorship revenue.

In terms of venue quality, Boston 2024 would probably not surpass the US Open site for tennis 200 miles away in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. The International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport could be another top-notch option. With sustainability in mind, the possibility of holding an entire sports competition, from preliminaries to finals, in another major city also exists under Agenda 2020.

“It’s an interesting concept,” said United States Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier, when asked about the possibility of holding the 2024 tennis competition at the National Tennis Center. “We have yet to be approached regarding that, but we would keep an open mind to benefit the sport. That’s for sure. A lot would have to do with the timing of when the 2024 Games might be.”


If Boston 2024 took place in August, the Olympic tennis tournament could conflict with preparations for that year’s US Open. Other venues with MLB, MLS, or WNBA teams as summer tenants could possibly have scheduling conflicts, too.

RFK Stadium, the Washington home to pro soccer’s D.C. United, presents a possibility for the early rounds of the men’s and women’s Olympic soccer tournament. The stadium hosted games during the 1994 men’s World Cup and 1996 Atlanta Olympics. In Washington’s unsuccessful bid for 2024, the existing structure or one built to replace it was going to be the main Olympic Stadium.

RFK Stadium, the Washington home to pro soccer’s D.C. United, presents a possibility for the early rounds of the men’s and women’s Olympic soccer tournament.
RFK Stadium, the Washington home to pro soccer’s D.C. United, presents a possibility for the early rounds of the men’s and women’s Olympic soccer tournament.Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

As senior vice president and managing director for the Sports and Entertainment Division of Events DC, Erik Moses oversees the sports and entertainment event bookings for RFK Stadium.

“The no-brainer answer is, ‘Yes,’ ” Moses said of hosting some Boston 2024 games at the stadium. “But our building is 53 years old now. So, it is probably not likely that edifice will continue to stand that far into the future. What will replace it we’re uncertain of. But as a destination we’d love to host games. If we have a stadium standing at that time that can host soccer, I would imagine we would want to take advantage of that opportunity.”

MSG Sports spokesman Carmine Tiso said Madison Square Garden executives had no comment about hosting early round basketball games at the home arena of the NBA’s New York Knicks and the WNBA’s New York Liberty.


At the most recent Summer Games in London, sailing was held 142 miles southwest of the host city and organizers staged mountain biking an hour’s drive from the English capital at Hadleigh Farm. Soccer matches took place at stadiums in several cities, including Cardiff, Coventry, Glasgow, Manchester, and Newcastle. The finals for both the men’s and women’s tournament were played in London’s Wembley Stadium.

So, there is precedent for remote venues, though the IOC previously preferred bids with venues located as close as possible to the host city. Now, with its commitment to Agenda 2020, the IOC has given candidates its blessing to use more distant facilities for competitions on a greater scale than the hosts of past Summer Games.

Also, hoping to make the bidding process more inviting, potential host cities can talk through their plans with the IOC, measuring local plans against the IOC’s vision of future Games.

The IOC wants innovative bids that emphasize cost-effective planning that fits with each city’s long-term goals. When it comes to competition sites, another section of Recommendation 1 calls for the IOC “to promote the maximum use of existing facilities and the use of temporary and demountable venues.” In other words, if a new venue won’t serve the host community’s long-term plans, find some place it will be better situated or build a temporary arena or use an existing facility in another city.


Ideally, the IOC would like the winning 2024 bid to provide a new model for future Olympic hosts. As a result, Boston 2024’s high-level talks with other major cities are part of a larger conversation about rethinking how to stage the Olympics.

“With 2½ years to put together the best possible bid for the Olympic movement, we should be looking at everything,” USOC board member and IOC member Angela Ruggiero said. “Then, we can think about if it makes sense. Does it make sense to go to New York or wherever?

“The interpretation of . . . the 2020 Agenda, from the [IOC] president’s perspective, is do what makes sense for your city. If you’re going to other cities because that’s what Agenda 2020 allows, that I think is wrong. But if you’re going to another city because there’s an existing venue that is perfect, then great. That would align with the sustainability piece of Agenda 2020,” she said.

As with all new systems, concerns will arise, namely how sports and athletes placed far from the center of the action and the athletes’ village will feel about it. For basketball players, the chance to play at NBA arenas will probably smooth over any objections. Plus, many of the world’s best basketball and tennis players typically don’t stay in the athletes’ village during the Games. Soccer players are used to traveling for Olympic and World Cup games. But it may be a more difficult sell for other sports on the Olympic program.

At this early stage, however, drawing on the strengths of more than one city seems an appealing, and cost-effective, path to explore.

Said Moses, “On a more basic patriotic level, I think any city in the country, especially on the Eastern Seaboard, would be more than willing to host soccer games or any other type of Olympic event to support the Boston bid and the USA’s bid as a host nation.”

Boston’s plans for the 2024 Summer Games probably will include staging some events outside Massachusetts, an approach that could mean sailing off Newport, R.I.
Boston’s plans for the 2024 Summer Games probably will include staging some events outside Massachusetts, an approach that could mean sailing off Newport, R.I.Steve Milne/AP

Shira Springer can be reached at springer@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ShiraSpringer.