State Plans to Select Olympics Consultant Soon

Boston is bidding to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. AP

Massachusetts is scheduled to select a consultant to study Boston’s Olympic bid, and the financial and economic impacts it may carry, in about two weeks. Thursday is the deadline for companies interested in conducting the study, the contract for which will pay a maximum of $250,000, to submit their proposals. The state estimates that it will pick a bidder by April 29.

The contract was put out to bid after a Request for Proposals was written and released in March by the offices of Governor Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Senate President Stan Rosenberg. The study is meant to explore the effects of hosting the 2024 Summer Games, including: an analysis of both the direct and indirect costs local and state government can expect to pay; the capacity for the Olympics to go over budget; a look at the funding sources for putting on the Olympics; and a determination of how an insurance policy to protect the state and the city from picking up any operating costs would work.


A previous study about the economic effects of hosting the Olympics, commissioned by The Boston Foundation, found that hosting the Olympics could generate billions in economic activity. But it also stated that its assumptions were based on the financial and budgetary assumptions provided by Olympic organizing committee Boston 2024, and the report cautioned that those figures could change, as the Olympics often go over budget.

The RFP for the state study lists its preferred vendor qualifications, which include experience in “evaluating large-scale, global events’’ such as the Olympics, as well as “team membership that includes specific experience with the Olympic Games, or relevant large-scale global events…and large scale development process/implementation.’’

Two local sports economists who have studied the Olympics extensively—Andrew Zimbalist at Smith College and Victor Matheson at Holy Cross—told that they were contacted by companies interested in the contract. Zimbalist said he only had a brief introductory conversation and was unsure if the company would bid, and Matheson said the company he spoke with opted not to. Both Zimbalist and Matheson have done research that has cast skepticism on the purported economic benefits of hosting events like the Olympics. (They have each also said they were miffed, given their work and their local ties, to have not been put on a state committee established in 2013 to look into the feasibility of hosting the Olympics, after they both spoke to state officials about possibly participating in the committee.)


The RFP says the study will be due to the governor’s office by July 15. The contract will provide the option for the state to keep the consultants on to “provide advisory services to assist the Commonwealth in evaluating the [Olympic bid] to be submitted to the [International Olympic Committee] in January 2016,’’ at a to-be-determined rate. And the contract will further provide an option for the team to be used in an advisory role beyond that, to help respond to inquiries from the IOC.

John Fish, Boston 2024’s chairman, has said the organization supports the state and the city vetting the bid.


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