Originally submitted on December 9 2014.
Chris Dempsey wants to educate citizens and civic leaders that hosting the 2024 Olympics in Boston and its surrounding area is not in the city’s best interest.
“It’s important for Boston to be planning its future and talking about what it wants to be as a city and so we really welcome an effort to do that,” said Dempsey, the co-chair of No Boston Olympics. “Unfortunately, we think the Olympics is a really poor choice for an event to do that for.”
No Boston Olympics is an organization of like-minded Bostonians representing the section of Boston’s community that are against the city’s 2024 Olympic Games hosting bid. The official bid, led by a private organization was officially submitted to the United States Olympic Committee on December 1st, almost two years after initial planning begun.
No Boston Olympics claims the bid is built off four myths – that the Olympics would help the city’s economy, it would help to fix the MBTA, that the bid is privately funded and an Olympic Village will solve Boston’s housing shortage.
Dan Walsh, a former Olympian who is a member of the Boston 2024 bid said it was a good thing people were questioning the bid.
“I personally think it is great having people protect this. Are their cons to having the Olympics? Of course there is,” Walsh said. “With great risk, comes great reward. If we pull this off, I think it’s going to help our city in the long run.”
One of those myths outlined by No Boston Olympics is the costing of the games. The Boston 2024 bid submitted an estimated expenditure for the event of $4.5 billion. Dempsey said that prediction should be between $10 and $20 billion due to the needs of a host city.
“If you look at the four most expensive things that need to be built for the Olympics, they are: A stadium, an Olympic Village, an Aquatic Centre and a velodrome,” Dempsey said. “Boston does not have any of those and will need to build them from scratch.”
Press reports suggest major sporting teams along with colleges may use the new stadia (or upgrades of their own) and housing needed for the Olympics post 2024. Peter Roby, Athletics Director at Northeastern University said the timing of the Olympics in 2024 would work well with the university’s master-plan.
“The timing of this is terrific, when you think of this in terms of a ten year increment,” Roby said. “If Northeastern can incorporate its master planning expectations into some of what the 2024 bid committee would be wanting to do in respect with the games – then it’s a win-win.”
Roby also said that he and Northeastern University have been contacted, along with other universities, from the beginning of the bid about creating partnerships in order for the Olympics to be held in Boston.
— Boston 2024 (@Boston2024) November 25, 2014
With Boston’s Mayor Martin J. Walsh proposing the city needs a further 53 000 units for its population by 2030, No Boston Olympics claims the housing needed to form an Olympic Village is not enough. Chris Dempsey pointed to the 2012 London Olympics that produced less than 3 000 units from its olympic village.
“If the Olympics in Boston are going to be like the Olympics in London, they’re not really going to be covering those needs and move us forward it terms of having a real conversation of what sort of housing we need,” Dempsey said.
In a report commissioned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the ‘Gold Standard’ of the 2012 London Olympics was outlined as a positive lasting legacy of the Olympic Games, which in the cases of Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and Sochi 2014, were matters more so of national pride the report said.
Dan Walsh said No Boston Olympics “don’t want to see the Olympics come in and see an Athens or Sochi effect on the city of Boston”.
— No Boston Olympics (@NoBosOlympics) June 23, 2014
With the Boston 2024 bid drawing its own comparison to London, Roby said Boston’s games could be held in similar fashion to 2012.
“London seems to have put on a really successful games in 2012,” Roby said. “London in many ways is similar to Boston in terms of congestion, traffic and proximity.”
However, Dempsey dismisses claims that a bid much similar to the London Games would be beneficial to Boston, pointing to the different needs that Boston has such as improved housing and public transport.
“The Olympics will be a day to day distraction on the maintenance we need and it will be very much focused on this three week event, which will not be aligned to the needs of the people of Boston that commute every single day,” Dempsey said.
Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C. are expected to submit bids in coming days. The United States Olympic Committee will meet late this month and announce their official support for one of those bids in January. The International Olympic Committee will elect a host city for the 2024 Olympics in 2017.