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Analysis Shows Financial Risks Of 2024 Olympics Bid

Gov. Charlie Baker speaks in January after Boston was picked by the USOC as its bid city. (Winslow Townson/AP)
Gov. Charlie Baker speaks in January after Boston was picked by the USOC as its bid city. (Winslow Townson/AP)
This article is more than 7 years old.

Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday that based on a state-funded analysis of Boston’s now-withdrawn Olympics bid, he would not have been able to support hosting the 2024 Summer Games.

"There was in fact significant risk to the taxpayers on the costs associated with public resources attached to this event," Baker told reporters after the report's release. "Therefore at this time I would not have been able or willing to provide the guarantees the [United States Olympic Committee] was looking for from the commonwealth of Massachusetts."

But Baker also said he believes Boston 2024, the organizing group behind the bid, may have been able to mitigate the risks outlined in the analysis.

"With more time, it's possible that many of the issues and concerns that were raised by this report and by others may have been able to have been addressed," he added.

The analysis — which Baker, along with House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg, released on Tuesday -- found that "state and local governments — and ultimately Massachusetts taxpayers — would have borne significant financial risks," should the region have been awarded the 2024 games.

Though Boston 2024's Olympics bid ended three weeks ago, economists at The Brattle Group, a Cambridge-based consulting firm, continued their commissioned analysis.

The report highlights the risks and benefits of organizers' so-called bid 2.0.

The analysis says the Olympics would have generated more than $5.5 billion of economic output leading up to the games, and another $4.5 billion during the year 2024.

But the report also outlines significant risk of going over budget, saying if the massive project didn't achieve projected cost savings, it could have cost taxpayers $750 million.

It found the biggest risk was working with developers to build a temporary Olympic Stadium in an area of Boston dubbed “Midtown” — a neighborhood development some city leaders still want to pursue.

In a statement late Tuesday, Boston 2024 said several points made in the report were incorrect and that The Brattle Group failed to thoroughly fact check several of their findings.

"Boston 2024 appreciates the work of the Brattle Group, however we respectfully disagree with some of their assumptions and analyses and have identified several misrepresentations and/or errors within the report," the statement said.

Boston 2024 went on to call the analysis a "simple comparison of our budget to past Games including London," and said The Brattle Group failed to "critique our venue by venue construction budgets which we provided, down to very specific costs of steel, concrete, plumbing, electrical and HVAC on a square foot basis."

Baker, DeLeo and Rosenberg commissioned the review in June, as the state debated — sometimes vociferously — the merits of the Olympics plan. The state contract with The Brattle Group was capped at $250,000.

Baker, in particular, said he was withholding opinion on the bid until he reviewed the group's analysis.

When the Olympics bid was withdrawn in late July, largely due to a lack of public support, the three state leaders said the firm would continue its work, and that the report would prove beneficial for planning purposes.

In a statement Tuesday, DeLeo said the review "will serve as a resource as we continue our focus on stimulating the economy and improving our transportation system while protecting Massachusetts’ taxpayers."

With reporting by WBUR's Curt Nickisch, Abby Elizabeth Conway and Benjamin Swasey. We're reviewing the report and will update our coverage.

This article was originally published on August 18, 2015.


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



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