Why Boston Would Be Screwed by the 2024 Olympics

TO: No Boston Olympics

FROM: The hardworking staff

RE: Ammunition

You guys,

Good work so far on the Cassandra front regarding the Greek tragedy that the 2024 Olympics would visit upon the local environs.

Here’s one more warning you might want to add to your press page.

From Andrew Zimbalist’s piece in the Weekend Wall Street Journal:

Boston Would Be Lucky to Lose the Olympics Competition

There’s no evidence that the Games boost tourism, and the costly new facilities turn into white elephants.

Construction executives in Boston celebrated on Thursday as the U.S. Olympic Committee selected the city to be America’s candidate in the world-wide competition to host the 2024 Summer Games. Their companies will get lots of new, large contracts.

Informed taxpayers in Boston were more subdued. They will have to pick up most of the tab.

There is always great hype about hosting the Olympics. City and business leaders anticipate exposure, leading to increases in tourism, trade and investment. With a few exceptions, these buoyant expectations are not realized.

A candidate city can expect to spend between $70 million and $100 million on its Olympic bid. Costs include drawing up architectural plans for 30-35 sporting venues as well as an Olympic Village, infrastructure, security, consulting agencies for planning and PR, staffing and travel, glossy publications etc. Chicago spent $100 million on its failed bid for the 2016 games.

It just gets worse from there.

There are two ways to avoid the negative economic impact of hosting the Games. Los Angeles showed one, when it was the only bidder for the 1984 Summer Games. The city told the International Olympic Committee that it would be host only if the IOC guaranteed the organizing committee against any losses. Los Angeles planned to use its existing sports infrastructure, plus a few smaller, privately funded venues. And Peter Ueberroth, the head of the organizing committee, introduced a new corporate sponsorship model, based on fewer contracts with exclusivity to help cover operating expenses. The Los Angeles Games ended with a $215 million operating surplus.

Barcelona 1992 is the other example. The city began to develop a plan for the renovation of the city after Spain’s dictator Fancisco Franco died in 1975. Crucially, the renovation plan predated the bid to host the Olympics and the Olympics were fit into the plan, reversing the typical sequence. And like Los Angeles, a large majority of the sports venues in Barcelona were already built.

Neither circumstance applies to Boston.

Ouch.

Memo to Marty Walsh: Let the bidder beware.

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5 Responses to Why Boston Would Be Screwed by the 2024 Olympics

  1. Mike Barry says:

    Not as far as the Globe is concerned. Furnish John Henry the kowtows, and he’ll furnish the Olympics.

  2. Mike Barry says:

    Stupid autocorrect ruined my pun. s/b “pompomsity.”

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