No Boston Olympics, the group fighting the recently submitted bid to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to the Hub, is calling for the bid to be made public—and for Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to take the lead in making that happen.
“Now that the Olympic bid has been submitted, we ask Mayor Walsh to call on Boston 2024 to release the bidding documents to the public,’’ No Boston Olympics co-chair Chris Dempsey said in a statement. “It’s unfortunate that the bid was pulled together without public input, but at least we would be able to see what promises (bidding group) Boston 2024 is making to the (United States Olympic Committee).’’
The Boston bid was submitted earlier this week to the USOC. The national committee is expected to choose between Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. as a representative United States bid this winter. Whichever bid is selected would then, most likely, receive further work before going in front of the International Olympic Committee, which will select from a pool of prospective host cities from around the world in 2017.
Boston 2024 faced some criticism in the run-up to the bid submission for not hosting any public meetings ahead of submitting the bid. And speaking last week on the WGBH program Boston Public Radio, Walsh, who supports the bid, suggested transparency has been lacking in the process, saying: “(We’ve) been a little slow on the one area that I think we have to do a better job on, is notifying the public. … This has to be strengthened, tightened up…’’
Kate Norton, a spokesperson for the mayor, indicated Wednesday that Walsh would not call for the bid to be made public in the near future, saying in a statement: “Boston 2024 is the driving entity behind the Olympic bid. At every step, Mayor Walsh has encouraged a robust public process, and we know that the Boston 2024 committee will make the bid public when appropriate. As we’ve continued to stress: This is a very early step in a very lengthy process.’’
She added that Walsh believes an Olympic proposal “would have to be done in a thoughtful, responsible way, particularly mindful of the long-term view and our fiscal responsibility to taxpayers.’’ Walsh has pledged that if Boston were to host the 2024 Games, it would take on “no unpaid debt.’’
Boston 2024 Executive Vice President Erin Murphy Rafferty hit on some of the same points as Walsh’s office when asked if the group would make the bid public, telling Boston.com Wednesday that the “process is in the early stages’’ of “a competitive bid process,’’ and that the group “is committed to making the bid public at the appropriate time.’’
She said that if the USOC chooses Boston, it will use the period between that selection and the bid’s submission to the IOC to create “a full and transparent process seeking input from all impacted communities and stakeholders relative to siting of venues, housing, and transportation improvements and other concerns.’’ On Wednesday, Boston 2024 announced it will form a “citizens advisory group’’ that will hold montly meetings with the committee starting in January, which will be open to the public.
New York’s proposal to host the 2012 Olympics, and Chicago’s bid for 2016, were both released publicly after the cities had been selected by the USOC, and when their final bid had gone in front of the IOC on the global stage.
Boston 2024 has given an overview of some parts of its proposal, such as a temporary Olympic stadium in South Boston, locations for other sporting venues, athlete housing at UMass Boston, and an operating budget of $4.5 billion that it says will be entirely privately financed.
Opponents say they are particularly skeptical of that last part. The opposition, aside from No Boston Olympics, includes local activists who intend to protest to protest the proposed 2024 Games. That group is planning a rally outside of a Dec. 8 panel at the ICA about the bid, which is being hosted by The Boston Globe.