Bidding group Boston 2024 is offering to offset some public costs should the Olympic Games come to Massachusetts, according to the new version of its budget released last week.
The budget shows that $375 million of its $4.6 billion budget would go toward “municipal operations and support.’’
However, that’s a little bit of a misnomer. The line item breaks down to include other costs, such as Olympic ceremonies. Rather, Boston 2024 is budgeting about $100 million for increased city services during the games.
“Boston 2024’s budget under the 2.0 plan includes funding for municipal support services beyond what normally might be needed for large public events such as the Boston Marathon, the Tall Ships or events in communities proposed to host a venue,’’ COO Erin Murphy told Boston.com in a statement.
It is common for organizers of big events to reimburse the city for public services related to the event. Usually, police and emergency services make for the largest public costs for such events.
The $100 million from Boston 2024 would not cover police or emergency services. According to Murphy, those municipal costs—including overtime—would be covered by a federally funded security budget. (A point of contrast worth noting: For its failed 2016 bid, Chicago reportedly planned to publicly fund some Olympic-related police operations even while relying on the federal government for most of its security plans.)
If not emergency services, what would be covered by Boston 2024? Probably things like trash pickup and traffic organization, sports economist Andrew Zimbalist suggested.
Zimbalist has been a prominent Boston Olympics critic. He has said he thinks Boston 2024’s budget is overly optimistic, and that hosting the Olympics would carry what he considers “hidden’’ costs—such as lost public advertising spots that would be put toward Olympic sponsors.
But he said the $100 million tag for city services “sounds about right.’’ Zimbalist also said he doesn’t think Boston 2024 would want to skimp that budget point due to “the optics’’—things like traffic messes or trash build-up wouldn’t look so good to the International Olympic Committee or to traveling Olympic spectators.
This kind of municipal service payment was not included in Boston 2024’s original budget, though that budget did include an unspecified section that said “other costs.’’
The old plan also suggested Boston 2024 may put money toward another public service—helping to run the MBTA. But the group is not saying whether that’s still a possibility, and its new budget does not seem to include such a provision. More on that here.
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