Richard Davey joined us in the studio. He's CEO of Boston 2024, the private group organizing Boston's bid to host the Summer Olympic Games.
Last month, the United States Olympic Committee chose Boston to represent the U.S. in a worldwide competition for the 2024 Games. The selection came with fanfare, controversy and with questions.
On why Boston should host the 2024 Olympics:
Richard Davey: "It's about legacy and it's about Boston in 2030 and beyond. That's the gold medal argument. When we spoke to the mayor and talked about why the Olympics [should be hosted by] Boston, it really aligned with what his goals were for the city — to improve transportation, to create more workforce and low-income housing, to continue to create a world-class city. We are a world-class city and this would just be another notch in our belt. We're a big sports town, obviously. We seem to continue to rack up championships, and we bring the world to Boston on a regular basis, whether it's in six weeks from now — the marathon — can you believe the marathon's in six weeks? [We] might be hurdling over snow banks — to the Head of the Charles. So, this is a great town to host a major event like the Olympics."
On what winning the Olympics bid would cost Boston:
RD: "It's not going to cost the taxpayers of Boston anything. We have privately funded the bid efforts to date, both before we won and after. We have about a $9 billion budget. About $4.5 billion of that would be covered by TV revenues, ticket revenues, broadcast rights, et cetera. The Olympic games, generally, never have a problem covering that, and [an] east coast games, with the NBC covering it, we feel very confident on the revenue side there. Where some games have run awry, and where we feel confident nonetheless, is building out some of the big venues. Olympic stadiums and athletes villages have been challenging for some places, but in the United States...Salt Lake, L.A. and Atlanta, in particular, have turned net revenue. They've had a surplus at the end. We're re-purposing the village, we're proposing to take the athlete's village and use a number of those beds for UMass' desires to [build] dorms. And then we also believe we can then create either workforce housing there or, potentially, use new technology, dismantle some of the housing and be able to put it in specific tranches around the city, which goes right to the point the mayor's talked about and I know you've talked about, which is, housing is such a huge issue here in Massachusetts. Finally, the stadium — it's a temporary stadium. We build it, we take it down and they use it somewhere else, literally. It's not going to be a white elephant that we've seen in some other venues. So, those are the costs. Security, I just want to point out though, to be clear, the federal government. We absolutely need the federal government's participation in security, though."
On what infrastructure needs to be built to support the games in Boston:
RD: "So, the $2-3 billion left is not infrastructure, it's either private development that would occur to help us fund the stadium and the UMass village. Infrastructure [is] a different question. If there's going to be new infrastructure that's done, absolutely. That would be the state chipping in, but we're asking for no new infrastructure. I know there's been some confusion about that. We are asking for no new projects. Look, there are some projects that would be nice for the Olympics — that would be spectacular for the city and the region. We can run a good games without those but, you know, certainly we think there should be things happening...If you read the bid carefully, we specifically say there are seven projects that are necessary to pull the games off. One is complete, six are currently under construction, including [the construction on the] Government Center T station, buying new red and orange line cars, for example. I certainly concede there's a whole list of other projects — South Coast Rail, South Station, which we say are in the pipeline, we think state government wants to do, would be good for the city, but are by no means required. Would they be good for the Olympics and the region? Absolutely. As a former transportation secretary [who] helped write that plan, I do believe in those projects. But...the USOC did not select us because we might have South Coast Rail. They selected us because we've already invested in ourselves — the central artery project, the cleaning up of the Boston Harbor, building the convention center, expanding Logan airport. If we didn't do those four things, I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you today about the Olympics because we would not have been the United States city."
On what would happened if the federal government did not fund security:
RD: "If we do not get federal money for security, I'll be out of a job. We are not having the Olympics in Boston. Period. End of story. But I think what's more troubling...is that that means the United States is never going to host a games ever again. Period. And so the Republicans and Democrats in the Congress, I think they need to think long and hard about that. And by the way, that same security money, it's called the national special security event, goes to the Super Bowl. So, should we be having a taxpayer — sort of — funded Super Bowl with the security? I think we have to have a real conversation about important events that we care about as Americans, the Olympics is one. There are others."
On whether there should be a voter referendum:
RD: "I think we're — right now — giving people the opportunity to have their say...My opinion is a yes or no question is not a conversation. I've had a lot of people stop me and say, 'You know, I'm in favor of the Olympics as long as you don't do this,' or, 'But for that.' And so that might be a venue question, or a concern about security...Bostonians like public process early and often. And we weren't early, we couldn't get engagement because of the bidding process, but we're out there now listening to folks, so I think the more information we can give people, the more comfort we can give them, the more questions we can answer. That's how we build support, for sure...Bostonians should have a vote on it, that's their right."
- "Boston’s Olympic organizing group has appointed a new leader, installing a former state transportation secretary as its top executive as it launches an intense 2½-year international campaign to win the 2024 Summer Games."
This segment aired on February 25, 2015.