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3 Arguments For And Against Boston’s Olympic Bid25:01

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Tuesday in San Francisco, a group of Boston civic leaders, including Mayor Marty Walsh, will go before the U.S. Olympic Committee in a bid to bring the Olympic Games to Boston in 2024.

There are other cities looking to win the committee's backing, including San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.

This is just the start of a long process. Once the U.S. committee picks a city next month, the competition moves to the International Olympic Committee, which will announce the host for the 2024 games two years from now.

What would it mean for Boston to be selected? A beach volleyball court on Boston Common, an Olympic Village at UMass, a stadium in Southie? Lots of private money, but lots of taxpayers dollars too.

The games would change Boston forever.

Guests

Mike Ross, former city councilor and columnist for The Boston Globe.

Christopher Dempsey, co-chair of "No Boston Olympics."

3 Arguments For And Against Boston's Olympic Bid

YES:

  • Mike Ross: “We are badly in need of an infrastructure improvement in Boston. In fact, this is one of the reasons why people say we should not have the Olympics, because our public roadways and infrastructures aren’t ready. This, frankly, would absolutely force us to do what we’ve needed to do for years and years. We’ve just seen in the last election that...a question on the gas tax was defeated [so it's] only getting harder and harder to fund public infrastructure projects. So, this would really force us to do that...The long arch of history will prove that the Big Dig transformed this city. It re-opened the waterfront, it opened up the innovation district. It changed the shape and face of Boston and I believe that the Olympics will do the same thing.”
  • MR: “The marketing potential of this is unprecedented. Boston will have a chance to showcase itself around the world. Whether we win or not, we’ll be able to tell everyone why they should come there.”
  • MR:It’s the Olympics! This is an epic event that Boston is finally ready to host, where countries come together on playing fields, where athletes compete, where people come together. And while there have been bad examples in Olympics as there are bad examples in the history of everything, at it’s best, the Olympics is just an amazing event — an amazing set of events — that I believe Boston could do at its best.”

NO:

  • Christopher Dempsey: “The history of Olympics is really a negative one for cities around the world. Economists have found that Olympics do not leave cities better off in terms of economic development or growth than they were before hosting the games. Olympics are incredibly expensive. The average Olympic summer games in $19.2 billion. To put that into context, the city of Boston’s budget is $2.7 billion a year. So, you’re talking about spending three times the city’s budget on a three to six week event.”
  • CD: "Olympics have enormous opportunity costs. So, essentially, if we host the games, for the next 10 years, all of the oxygen is going to get sucked out of the room. And instead of talking about health care, instead of talking about education, instead of talking about basic transportation improvements, we’re going to be talking about where should we site this stadium, where should we site the Velodrome, how is the Olympic village going to be built and is it going to be built on time? I just think that these are not the questions that the citizens of Boston and Massachusetts have elected their leaders to discuss.”
  • CD: “When you get to the USOC level, you become the sole bid for the U.S. And when that happens, all of those national interests, whose interests are having the games in the U.S., start to come into play. So, if you’re Nike or you’re NBC or McDonald’s, you make more money if the games are in the U.S. And all of a sudden, it’s worth you investing a couple million bucks or $10 million in the debate in Massachusetts. And so, the conversation really goes beyond our borders and no longer is our people talking to each other and our voters talking to each other. It’s a conversation that plays out in board rooms around the country and around the world. And we really sort of get left out in that.”

More

The Boston Globe: Boston Olympic Bid: The Motivation We Need

  • "As we sit down on our couches to watch the World Cup, we’ll all be paying careful attention to how cities across Brazil manage the logistic, financial, and security challenges before them — some of the reasons Boston could be skeptical about hosting the Olympics in 2024."
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