Boston College may be seeing some Olympic action in 2024. Four U.S. cities, including Boston, are in the running to be considered as the host of the 2024 Summer Olympics.
On December 16, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, D.C. presented to the U.S. Olympic Committee board of directors, each with aspirations to be chosen as the finalist for the U.S. Olympic bid. The USOC had not committed to bidding for the Olympics until after hearing these presentations.
The board plans to hold another meeting in early January to discuss the pros and cons of each city. Of the four cities, none has emerged as a frontrunner yet.
“It’s a four-way tie,” said Scott Blackmun, the USOC CEO. The board hopes to choose its city after the next meeting.
The last time the U.S. hosted the Olympic Games was in 1996 when the Summer Games took place in Atlanta. While New York bid in 2012 and Chicago in 2016, both cities were eliminated early from contention. However, this year the International Olympic Committee has strongly encouraged the U.S. to bid. The IOC is pushing for the use of existing, reusable, temporary and removable venues to make the Games cheaper and easier to host, which has been a huge factor in the USOC’s decision to bid.
“We just concluded that it was a really good time to throw our hat in the ring,” said Blackmun.
And Boston seems like it could be the city to end the U.S. Olympics dry spell. The city is proposing that its almost 100 colleges and universities would allow Boston to host an affordable and compact Olympics.
Although it is estimated that up to 70 percent of the venues would be temporary, Boston is suggesting that some venues would be built with the cooperation of universities, who would then buy and take over the buildings after the Games are over.
Constructing the Olympic Village near UMass Boston fits the university’s plan to add 5,000 housing units for their students. Iconic Boston sites like Fenway Park and the Boston Common would also be used for Olympic events.
These venues would be scattered around the city, making maximum use of college and university facilities that have access to public transportation. Ninety percent of the venues would be within about 3.5 miles of Boston, which would make it the most compact Olympics since 1896 according to Dan O’Connell, the president of Boston 2024, the city's official Olympic bid committee.
The city's proposal has a lot of appealing aspects that could make it a frontrunner for the USOC bid. The Boston Marathon course is too hilly, but the finish line could be incorporated into a different course. A beach volleyball stadium could be erected on the Boston Common. The Charles River has too many bridges for rowing, but the Merrimack River in Lowell is a good alternative.
Boston has the requisite 45,000 hotel rooms, as well as a public transit system, the T, that would be updated to service the fans and officials.
The estimated $4.2 billion that the organizing committee would get from broadcast revenues, ticket sales and international sponsorships would be enough to run the Games, according to O’Connell. Schools would also tap into their alumni networks for donations to finance Olympic buildings, with the purpose of eventually being used as school facilities after the Games.
However, not everyone is excited about the prospect of Boston being a contender for the 2024 Olympics. Many Boston residents, including members of the main opposition group No Boston Olympics, fear that the Games will turn into another “Big Dig,” the highway project that more than quintupled its original $2.8 billion budget.
Boston also does not have a stadium large enough for opening and closing ceremonies or track and field events. A large temporary stadium would need to be built and later removed or downsized into a New England Revolution soccer field.
Transportation has also been a main cause for concern. While Boston 2024's promotional video mentions Boston as "one of the top five most walkable, bike-friendly and transit-friendly cities in America," locals complain that the T is unreliable and slow, certainly not up to Olympic standards. In comparison to previous hosts' transit systems, such as the London Underground, which efficiently serviced the 2012 Summer Olympics, the T would need special attention and funding for renovations.