Is Boston Ready to Enter the Games?
By Allana Barefield
Imagine spirits are high. Voices fill the arena and carry over to the streets. Cheers get louder and the crowd goes wild. The torch enters the arena. Excitement is building. The buzz of achievement is in the air.
Boston is a contender to host the Summer Olympic Games in 2024. However, there is competition on this “short list” released earlier this month. Like all venues trying to host, Boston is convinced it can host a show of a lifetime.
“The Commonwealth is thinking big and acting big and the world is taking note,” said Gov. Deval Patrick after the announcement.
Before Boston can make history it has to overcome some obstacles, including space, finances, transportation issues and public opinion.
“While promising, this is the first step in a very long process,” Mayor Marty Walsh said in a Fox News interview . He said Boston residents, businesses, and community and neighborhood groups would be engaged in the process.
Boston is going up against the toughest in the game, and must win to light the torch for its first-ever Olympic game. The other venues on the list are Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
“Why shouldn’t we be in the hunt for this?” said Pat Moscritolo, head of the Greater Boston Tourism Board. “It’s not why have them, it’s why not.” Moscritolo said the city has the capability, and if it shows the determination then it will be all set.
Asked if the city has enough space to build an Olympic Village on the site of the Bayside Expo Center in Dorchester, Amelia Orozoo said, “Not in this area.” The 45-year Dorchester resident lives near the expo center, where 16,000 athletes would be housed.
A city construction worker near the expo agreed. “I don’t think the city is big enough” said Mike Poole.
But Robert Campbell, a three-year Dorchester resident from Jamaica, had a different outlook. He said it was a good idea to have the Olympics in Boston, that it might even stop the violence. “I hate the violence. I will tell you the truth, it hurts me” said Campbell.
On the issue of transportation, Xiu Jue Lu, an exchange student at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, weighed in. Xiu said she is “worried about the public transportation. The train we take is not new, needs some polish.”
Joe Pesaturo, director of communications for the MBTA, said the T “is not involved in any efforts to bring the Olympics to Boston.”
The London 2012 Olympics cost a total of $14.6 billion, according to the Oct. 24, 2012, issue of The Guardian, one of London’s newspapers. It came in more than $4 billion over the final operating budget.
Liam Kerr, co-chairman of No Boston Olympics, pointed to cost after Boston made the shortlist. He called the project “a $15 billion hangover.”
It is unclear how much a Boston Olympics could cost taxpayers. The federal government does help out in paying a percentage of the Games. ABC News reported that the federal government gave Atlanta $609 million for the 1996 Summer Olympics. The Games cost the city a total of $2 billion, the report said.
Until an Olympic city is named, the issues of cost, location and transportation are still up in the air. However, for Boston resident Alex Murray, the city is already a winner.
“It’s a city that has lived up to its title ‘Boston Strong,’” Murray said.