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Do we really need more sports glory?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis February 27, 2014 09:55 AM

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Greater Boston needs more places to live, not more sports glory.

Some of the city's top business leaders seem intent on mounting a bid to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to Boston.

Too bad some of these bigwigs couldn't throw the same energy into something that really matters, such as solving the Boston area's increasingly chronic housing and commuting problems.

I mean it's great the Red Sox have broken the bambino's curse three times over now, while the Patriots have morphed from bottom feeders to the top of the heap in professional football.

The Celtics and Bruins have each won a championship each in the past decade.

Way to go.

But what good is having great sports teams if you can't find an affordable house to buy or apartment to rent?

Greater Boston wins hands down when compared to many other metro areas when it comes to prestige, from top universities and cultural institutions to winning sports teams.

But you can't live in a sports stadium and all the trophies in the world won't make everyday life one bit easier for the vast majority of working and middle class families across the Boston area.

We get an F when it comes to livability for middle class families.

Yes, we have problems, and big ones, from out of reach housing prices and rents to increasingly traffic-packed highways and an expensive commuter rail system that freezes up at the first sign of bad weather.

I have two big problems with this Olympic fantasy our otherwise sound and sober business leaders want to spend millions pursuing.

Let's put aside the question of whether anyone would ever be able to get a new, 80,000-seat Olympic stadium in Boston, not to mention the 100 acre Olympic Village, through the Hub's approval and permitting gauntlet.

Boston has a long history of chewing up and spitting out sports stadium projects, including the foolish plan, put forth by the hapless, pre-John Henry Red Sox, to tear down Fenway Park and building a sterile new stadium next door.

But just think about the land an Olympic stadium would hog, dozens of scarce acres in downtown Boston that could otherwise be used for new housing and commercial development.

A dearth of land to build on is a key factor in why housing costs more here - just wait until we shoehorn in a monster stadium of dubious utility.

Even more troubling, mounting an Olympic bid would suck up all the political energy in the room for the next few years - goodbye to dealing with anything else.When casinos were being debated on Beacon Hill, that's all we heard about for months on end. Just imagine how nuts our local media and lawmakers would get debating hundreds of millions - if not billions - in projects to make Boston Olympic worthy.

Gov. Deval Patrick, who has a year left in office, appointed the committee of business execs that just came out with the report on the feasibility of an Olympic bid.

Why not appoint a committee to look into solutions to the challenges facing middle class families in the state, from the high cost of housing to the high cost just about everything?

Really, why not?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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