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Legislators File Bill To Make Boston's 2024 Olympics Bid More Transparent

Another view of the proposed Olympic stadium. Boston 2024 president Dan O’Connell said Widett Circle is their first choice for the stadium, but if that location didn’t work out they may consider Suffolk Downs.
Another view of the proposed Olympic stadium. Boston 2024 president Dan O’Connell said Widett Circle is their first choice for the stadium, but if that location didn’t work out they may consider Suffolk Downs.
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Two state legislators are seeking to create a commission to oversee Boston's quest to host the 2024 Olympic Games and disclose any public and private money involved in the city's bid.

State Reps. Aaron Michlewitz and Michael J. Moran, both of Boston, jointly sponsored a bill filed Wednesday that they say will bring transparency to the Olympic bid process.

"The feeling is if we're going to invest state dollars into an Olympics in Boston, then we need to create a process that allows for accountability and transparency," Michlewitz said in a phone interview. "My biggest fear is that we could be creating a debt long-term through these Olympics that will force future generations to have the burden of cleaning up — similar to the one the MBTA is currently dealing with right now because of the Big Dig."

The bill would create a seven-member Olympics commission appointed by various state officials, according to Moran. The commission would be tasked with maintaining a website where the public could track any private or public money spent on the Games using the state's open checkbook program. The commission would also assess the social, economic and public safety impact of bringing the Games to Boston, Michlewitz said.

Two major issues the bill seeks to address — transparency and funding — have been the main points of criticism regarding Boston's Olympics bid.

The day after the U.S. Olympic Committee picked Boston to be the American bid to host the Games, Mayor Walsh promised to have the "most open, inclusive and transparent process in Olympic history."

However, Boston 2024, the private nonprofit overseeing the city's Olympic bid, did not release the documents and renderings it presented to the U.S. Olympic Committee until two weeks after securing the bid.

The group's plan calls for utilizing existing facilities as well as infrastructure and transportation projects already in the pipeline. And while there have been pledges to privately fund the Games, critics have expressed concerns about the use of public funds and additional costs outside Boston 2024's proposed $4.7 billion operating budget.

Both Michlewitz and Moran said they have not decided whether they are for or against bringing the Olympics to Boston. The commission would provide a source of information that is independent from the groups who have "already decided what side of the aisle they're on" regarding bringing the Games here, Moran said.

"What we're trying to put in place in this process is an impartial commission that can just simply look at this and ask the basic question: Is this or is it not a good deal for Boston, for the commonwealth and for the taxpayers?" Moran said.

Boston's Olympic plans will continue to develop over the next several months. Final applications from all cities vying for the Games are due to the International Olympic Committee in January 2016 and the host city will be determined in 2017.

Moran said he hopes the commission's work will provide — prior to Boston 2024's final bid — some sort of statement "by stakeholders at the state level that they either support this venture or they don’t support this venture."

Zeninjor Enwemeka Twitter Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a reporter who covers business, tech and culture as part of WBUR's Bostonomix team, which focuses on the innovation economy.

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