Boston bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics
|Games of the XXXIII Olympiad|
|City||Boston, Massachusetts, United States|
|NOC||US Olympic Committee|
|Previous Games hosted|
The Boston 2024 Partnership was a privately backed, controversial bid to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to the city of Boston, Massachusetts. The official proposal was submitted on September 12, 2014 On January 8, 2015, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) chose Boston to compete with candidates around the world, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would select the host city in 2017.
Boston beat out Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, DC for the official US bid. Boston was the only first-time bidder in the group. Polls conducted in early 2015 indicated declining support in the Boston area for hosting the Olympics. On July 27, 2015, the city and the USOC mutually agreed to terminate Boston's bid to host the Games.
In 2013, Boston was one of 35 cities invited by the USOC to explore the possibility of submitting a bid to host the 2024 Olympics. The Massachusetts State Senate passed a bill, filed by Lowell senator Eileen Donoghue, that July to create a feasibility commission to study this possibility. After then passing through the House of Representatives and receiving the signature of Governor Deval Patrick, the Feasibility Commission was formed that fall, with appointees from Governor Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, House Minority Leader Bradley Jones, Jr., and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh . The Feasibility Commission was staffed with corporate executives (covering real estate/construction, tourism, and sports management) and political officials or their aides.
The commission released its final report on February 27, 2014, which identified possible venues, legacy opportunities, and security risks for the Games.
In January 2014, the leaders of the feasibility commission created the non-profit Boston 2024 Partnership. Suffolk Construction Company CEO John Fish, the Chairman of the feasibility commission, became the treasurer, clerk, and director (then, later, chairman) of Boston 2024. Massachusetts Competitive Partnership CEO Daniel O’Connell, another appointee from the feasibility commission, became the president. New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, Boston Celtics co-owner and Bain Capital executive Stephen Pagliuca, and Gloria Cordes Larson of Bentley were listed as directors. The Boston 2024 Partnership then put together an Executive Committee of local business leaders, university presidents, and athletes to develop the bid.
On June 13, 2014, Boston made the USOC's shortlist for the 2024 Games.
The bid was submitted to the USOC on December 1, 2014, but, at that point, there had been no open public meetings about the bid, nor had the bid been released to the public—points of continuing controversy that factored into the bid’s ultimate demise.
On December 16, 2014, Mayor Martin Walsh joined the Boston 2024 Partnership to present before the USOC.
On January 8, 2015, the USOC selected Boston as its bidding city for the 2024 Olympic Games. To avoid criticisms of conflicts of interest, Boston 2024 chairman John Fish recused himself and Suffolk Construction Company from any Olympic-related bidding.
On January 21, 2015, Boston 2024 released a redacted version of the bid they submitted to the USOC. The full, unredacted version of the bid was not released until July 24, 2015, after the Boston City Council threatened to issue a subpoena to obtain them. The redactions included the mention of a $500 million shortfall, Boston 2024's willingness to get laws changed to suit the Olympics, and the Partnership's downplaying of Olympic opposition and the possibility of a voter referendum.
On March 9, 2015, Boston 2024 released salary information for its staff as well as the details for how much it was paying various consultants. Boston 2024 was paying $124,000 a month to consulting firms, excluding the $7,500 a week that former Governor Deval Patrick was receiving as a bid ambassador.
On May 21, 2015, Stephen Pagliuca replaced John Fish as chairman of the Boston 2024 Partnership.
Acknowledging the overspending at past Olympics like Beijing and Sochi, the Boston 2024 Partnership promised that it would rely on private funds (with the exception of federal security spending), existing facilities and temporary venues, and transportation projects that had previously received approval.
In the budget released in January 2015, Boston 2024 included an operating budget of $4.7 billion, a development budget of $3.4 billion, and an infrastructure budget of $5.2 billion. Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist at Smith College criticized these budget numbers for numerous omissions and overly optimistic assumptions.
In May, a public records request on an economic impact assessment of the bid commissioned by the Boston Foundation found that Boston 2024 planned to use tax increment financing for construction of the Olympic stadium, contradicting the group's earlier statements that no public funds would be used.
The original bid leaned on the use of existing facilities at Boston-area universities as well as venues like Gillette Stadium and the TD Garden. However, some events were pegged for other parts of the state, including rowing in the Merrimack River in Lowell 
Before Boston could host the Olympic Games, several facilities would need to be built: a temporary stadium to seat 60,000 people, an Olympic village that spans 100 acres, a velodrome, and an aquatics center.
Type key: E = existing facility, P = new, permanent, T = new, temporary
From the start, Boston 2024's venue selection was dogged by missteps. When the redacted bid book was released in January, property owners in and around designated venues, particularly Widett Circle (Olympic stadium) and Columbia Point (Olympic Village) alleged that they had never been contacted directly by Boston 2024. In March, Friends of the Public Garden released a formal statement opposing the siting of beach volleyball in Boston Common. The Franklin Park Coalition criticized Boston 2024 for not providing detailed information about their plans for the park.
On June 29, 2015, Boston 2024 released a revised Bid 2.0, with new cost estimates, some new venue locations, and plans for post-Olympic development in Widett Circle and Columbia Point. Notable venue changes included moving beach volleyball to Squantum Point Park and tennis to Harambee Park. Sailing was moved to New Bedford and shooting to Billerica. Locations for eight of the 33 venues, including big-ticket items like the velodrome, the aquatics center, and the media center, were left unidentified. The reception from residents near Squantum Point Park was mixed to negative at a community meeting in early July.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo commissioned consulting firm the Brattle Group to conduct a study of Bid 2.0, to be capped at $250,000. On August 18, 2015, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker released the results of the study, which found that Boston 2024 Partnership may have underestimated costs by up to $3 billion. The firm found that some of the biggest unaccounted for costs would come from contingency funds and incentives needed to entice developers to bid on the massive construction projects at Widett Circle and Columbia Point. The Brattle Group report estimated those combined costs could range up to $1 billion.
The Boston bid relied on several transportation system improvements, most already approved by the state legislature but not yet fully funded, These included:
- Expansion of South Station, adding 6 or 7 new platforms on land freed up by relocating the adjacent Post Office facility
- A new West Station on the Framingham Worcester commuter rail line to be constructed on the Beacon Park Yard property, coordinated with reconfiguration of the Massachusetts Turnpike Allston toll barrier plaza.
- Pedestrian improvements at the JFK/UMass Red Line station
- Purchase of diesel multiple unit (DMU) rail cars for the proposed Indigo Lines, which would shuttle visitors from hotels in Back Bay to the Boston Convention Center venue
- A bicycle path between the Olympic Stadium and the Olympic Village
According to a Boston Globe review, six projects, totaling $2.35 billion, had already been funded. Another six projects with a total cost of $5.16 billion had $1 billion committed to them, with a resulting gap of $4.16 billion. Five additional projects, with a total cost of $343 million, had no funds committed.
Boston's bid for the 2024 Olympics attracted an engaged and vocal opposition. In December 2013, around the same time as the state's Feasibility Commission launched, the group No Boston Olympics was formed. No Boston Olympics emphasized the economic risk involved with signing a financial guarantee for the IOC, the corruption of the IOC, and the opportunity costs involved in hosting. In November 2014, another group, No Boston 2024, emerged. No Boston 2024 focused on the social injustices inherent to the modern Olympic process, including displacement, militarization, widening inequality, and the diversion of public spending from basic needs. Although the groups differed in tactics, tone, and emphases, they frequently collaborated around the common goal of defeating the city's Olympic bid. No Boston 2024 was able to shine light on the city's behind-the-scenes work on the bid through numerous public records requests.
Former gubernatorial candidate Evan Falchuk, of the United Independent Party, was an early critic of the bid and launched a campaign for a ballot initiative barring public spending on the Olympics.
Although support for the Olympic bid in the Boston area was at 55% to 33% in early post-selection polling, it fell significantly in subsequent months as residents learned more about what hosting the Olympics would entail and grew increasingly skeptical of Boston 2024's promises that no public funding would be used. In February, Boston area support had fallen to 44%, with 46% opposed. Starting in March until the bid's demise, opposition consistently polled over 50%.
Charlie Baker administration
On the same day Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker was inaugurated for his first term, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced that it was selecting Boston's bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics for submission to the International Olympic Committee. Baker released a statement welcoming the announcement, while also saying that he was "looking forward to working with Mayor Walsh and the Boston 2024 organization to address the multitude of issues that need to be discussed, including keeping costs down and continuing to press forward on pledges of a privately funded Olympics as the process moves forward before the IOC." In June 2015, amidst declining public support and organized opposition to the bid, Baker and the leadership of the state legislature commissioned an independent analysis of the potential impacts of hosting the games performed by the Cambridge-based consulting firm The Brattle Group.
Despite the U.S. Olympic Committee and the bid organizers mutually agreeing to drop the bid the previous month, the Brattle Group completed and released its report in August 2015. The report found that the bid organizers had underestimated the construction costs for the games' venues by $970 million (which the bid organizers had only estimated to be $918 million), had underestimated the costs to upgrading the MBTA's power and signaling systems by as much as $1.3 billion, and underestimated the costs for the proposed Olympic Stadium in Widett Circle by as much as $240 million. The report also noted that hosting the games would not have increased the state workforce or the state GDP by even one percent over the six years in preparation for and during the year of hosting the games. Based upon the report's analysis of the financial risks to taxpayers, Baker stated that he "would not have been able or willing to provide the guarantees the [United States Olympic Committee] was looking for from the commonwealth of Massachusetts", and doubted that the leadership of the state legislature would have been willing to do so either.
Withdrawal of bid
On July 27, 2015, United States Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun and Boston 2024 Chairman Steve Pagliuca issued a joint statement that officially ended the city's Olympic bid. Rumors that the USOC might pull Boston's bid had been swirling since late March due to low polling numbers and continued interest by Los Angeles in hosting.
After release of a revised bid on June 29, 2015, failed to effect a change in Boston 2024's polling numbers, and with the September 15 IOC deadline looming, the USOC put increasing pressure on Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker to help boost the bid's popularity. Baker, who along with the state legislature had commissioned an economic analysis of the bid, held a press conference on July 24, 2015, to reassert that he did not intend to take a position on the bid until after the release of the commissioned report. The following Monday, with rumors swirling that the USOC would vote on terminating the bid that afternoon, Mayor Martin Walsh held a press conference asserting that, despite the fact that he had already signed a letter the previous October stating that he would sign the Host City Contract without reservation, he was not comfortable signing the financial guarantee in its current form at that time. The USOC voted to terminate the bid that afternoon in mutual agreement with the City of Boston.
On September 1, 2015, the USOC formally named Los Angeles as the US's bidding city for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Los Angeles will host the 2028 Summer Olympics while Paris will host the 2024 Summer Olympics.
Although the Boston 2024 Partnership was over $4 million in debt after the bid was pulled, it officially settled its debts by the end of September 2015.
A poll of Boston residents taken in July 2016 showed that 44 percent thought the Boston Olympics would have been a good thing for the city, but slightly more (48 percent) disagreed. The poll results were identical to polls from July 2015, weeks before the bid ultimately collapsed.
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