For whatever reason, Boston is inexplicably still in the running to host to the 2024 Olympic Summer Games, which is like the potential for imagining a recurring nightmare even as you suffer through insomnia. According to reports, Boston remains a strong candidate in the eyes of the United States Olympic Committee, which just so happened to meet at MIT on Tuesday in order to narrow down a list that also includes Los Angeles (yes, please), San Francisco (yes, yes, please), and Washington, D.C. (sure, why not).
Boston? You have to be kidding me.
“As we sit down on our couches to watch the World Cup, we’ll all be paying careful attention to how cities across Brazil manage the logistic, financial, and security challenges before them — some of the reasons Boston could be skeptical about hosting the Olympics in 2024,” former Boston city councilor Mike Ross wrote in a Globe editorial last Sunday. “But Boston’s path forward works, and not just for the reasons one might think, such as helping us get over our persistent ‘smaller than New York’ Napoleon complex. Our primary reason for doing this is because it will force us to upgrade, well, everything.”
First off, what complex?
Second, Ross does realize that the Big Dig took 25 years of conception, planning, and constructing, right? What the hell could possess him and his like – the inane politicians who think hosting one of planet Earth’s largest get-togethers – to think a project of such magnitude is an idea that should be pursued in lieu of tossing it aside with the memo detailing the waterfront tribute to Vin Baker?
Host city requirements for the Olympics require the following, according to BostInno:
• Having an Olympic Village that can house 16,000 athletes
• Enough space to accommodate 15,000 journos
• An “extensive" public transit system
• Boasting a workforce of 200,000
• Understanding a $3 billion operating budget
Go ahead. When you stop laughing, come back to us.
Never mind the minimum requirements though, the logistics involved, especially for anyone who lived through the Big Dig, when this city resembled some higher power’s Lego construction playset, would impact daily Boston life for a decade. The MBTA is a running joke, Boston only has 35,000 hotel rooms, and the city understands a $3 million operating budget about as well as a toddler grasps trigonometry.
On the bright side, it’d be cool to walk around with a “Boston 2024” T-shirt. Neat.
Working in Boston’s favor, we hope, is the fact that there are three members of the 15 USOC voting members with local ties (according to the Boston Business Journal: former John Hancock Life Insurance CEO James Benson, Candlewick Press licensing director Mary McCagg and Bain Capital private equity associate Whitney Ping), and we can only assume the trio understands what a drastically terrible host city Boston would make. The members are hoping to narrow down their list of candidates this month, and present a final decision on a US candidate in 2015. The Olympics, of course, have not been held in the US since 2002 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Summer Olympics last took place here in Atlanta in 1996.
The International Olympic Committee will choose a city for the 2024 Games in 2017. That would give Boston seven years to prepare for a two-week onslaught of gridlock and mayhem the likes of which it has never seen. Fun. When do tickets go on sale?
“Boston is a world-class city and would serve as a wonderful host for the Summer Olympics,” the CEO of Suffolk Construction, John Fish, who is leading the charge to bring the Olympics to Boston, said in a statement to the Business Journal’s Jon Chesto after declining an interview request to discuss Tuesday’s meeting. “Our history, leading-edge business industries and sports-loving residents would provide a perfect atmosphere for the Olympic movement and the spirit of the Games. In addition, holding the Olympics in the Boston area would serve as a catalyst for growth in the region, supporting the kinds of major transportation and infrastructure improvements that are essential to our state’s economic future.”
That’s a cute little dream, but there’s a reason why cities bidding for the 2022 Winter Games (which, frankly, might not be as much of a headache for New England, but that’s a matter for another time) are dropping like Mary Decker. Krakow, Poland pulled itself out of the running last month after residents voted overwhelmingly against the plan. Stockholm, Sweden ended its chase in January, and voters in Munich, Germany rejected a proposed bid last November. The IOC will announce the location for the Games next year, with bids from Oslo, Norway and Luiv, Ukriane falling apart. The Games may indeed be awarded to the last city standing, which could end up being Beijing, even though China hosted the Olympics only six years ago.
The reasons? It’s too damned expensive, no matter what the long-term benefits to a city’s infrastructure may be. The economic reward is no doubt a tempting factor, but the need to face a strict deadline should strike fear into anyone who is wont to the insides and outs of Boston politics. In short, Boston would make Sochi, Russia look like a well-oiled machine by the time it was through making preparations.
San Diego was reportedly stricken from the USOC’s list of candidates because of its inferior airport. Let’s hope then a number of the voting members rode off from the Red Line’s MIT/Kendall stop on Tuesday and had a healthy experience of what it can be like to depend on the MBTA. We’ll be done before you know it.
“To put this in terms that we can all appreciate, the Olympics is analogous to hosting a really important dinner at your home,” Ross wrote, “just on a much grander scale. You use the opportunity to fix things that are broken, make new purchases, and generally clean the place up.”
Right. For $3 billion and a seven-year migraine, I’d rather have dinner in Paris, if that’s OK with you.