Boston Olympics Concerns Aired At Opposition Meeting

About 150 people attended the first public meeting of the group No Boston Olympics at a church in Boston's Back Bay Wednesday.

The meeting is part of an effort to drum up public and financial support in the group's effort to thwart plans to make Boston the host city for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.

Group co-chair Liam Kerr drew laughs from the crowd when he opened the meeting by saying, "It's the most civic participation in the process we've had so far!"

Kerr criticized the planning by the group advancing the Olympic bid, Boston 2024, for a lack of transparency and public input.

Smith College sports economist Andrew Zimbalist addressed the crowd, saying hosting the Games has a negative impact on the economy.

Economist and Smith College professor Andrew Zimbalist addresses the Olympics opposition crowd Wednesday. (Steven Senne/AP)
Economist and Smith College professor Andrew Zimbalist addresses the Olympics opposition crowd Wednesday. (Steven Senne/AP)

Audience members who asked questions said they’re worried that hosting the Olympics would hurt neighborhoods and businesses in Boston and surrounding communities.

One attendee said the Olympics would be like college move-in day, except day in and day out. Another feared corruption would be widespread.

Ashley Hartman said she doesn’t believe the $5 billion price of the plan, comparing it to the cost of Big Dig, which ballooned.

"I just feel like this would be the exact same thing if we had it here," Hartman said. "We don’t have a good proven track record of keeping costs down."

Chris Dempsey, another No Boston Olympics co-chair, says the group is trying to figure the best strategy to stop Boston from being chosen by the International Olympic Committee.

"That could be a citywide ballot initiative, a statewide ballot initiative," Dempsey said. "It could be legal action of some kind. It could be direct lobbying to the IOC. Really, all the options are on the table at this point."

The city of Boston is holding nine community meetings on the bid, with the first scheduled later this month.

Boston 2024's website says pursuing a bid to host the Olympics "not only aligns with existing plans for the state's continued economic growth, but can also serve to accelerate the delivery of improvements in transportation, infrastructure, and housing."

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Curt Nickisch Business & Technology Reporter
Curt Nickisch was formerly WBUR's business and technology reporter.



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