Support for Boston Olympic Bid Falls to 36 Percent, Poll Finds

Conceptual drawing of the Olympic Stadium at Widett Circle.
The proposed Olympic Stadium at Widett Circle. –Boston 2024

Support for hosting the 2024 Olympics in Boston has fallen for the second straight month, a new poll from WBUR and MassINC found. Only 36 percent of 504 registered voters in the Boston area said they support the idea, while 52 percent said they were opposed. Another 13 percent of voters were undecided or refused to answer.

Last month, 44 percent of those polled by WBUR and MassINC said they supported the Olympic bid, compared to 46 percent who were opposed. The month before, 51 percent were in support compared to 33 percent in opposition. All together, that represents a 15 percent drop in support for the bid since January, when Boston was named the United States Olympic Committee’s bidding city.

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In Hamburg, Germany, which is also bidding to host the 2024 Summer Games, 64 percent of recently surveyed residents said they supported the city’s efforts. Mayor Marty Walsh has said he would want to see 70 percent support in Boston by 2017, when the International Olympic Committee will choose a host.

Walsh also said last week that he felt recent revelations about bidding committee Boston 2024’s pay to a network of politically connected staffers and consultants would hurt public support in the short-term.

The poll doesn’t really explore that theory, but public opinion was evenly divided on the hiring of former Governor Deval Patrick as a Boston 2024 consultant. (Patrick said Thursday night that he would not be taking pay from the group; the poll was conducted before that.) It showed that 42 percent approved of Patrick’s work for Boston 2024, and an identical 42 percent of respondents said they disapproved.

Meanwhile, only 29 percent of voters believed that Olympic operations could be paid for without taxpayer money, as Boston 2024 has pledged, while 65 percent felt public funds would be required.

The poll found 19 percent of people viewed Boston 2024 favorably, compared to 34 percent who viewed it unfavorably. (Everybody else was either undecided or had not heard of Boston 2024.) By comparison, the opposition group No Boston Olympics had the approval of 34 percent, compared to 29 percent who said they viewed it unfavorably.

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Last week, USOC chairman Scott Blackmun said that while the national committee would like to see more support for the bid, it remained confident in the Boston plan. “Candidly, it’s much more important that those numbers be high two and a half years from now than it is that they be high now,’’ he said. He expressed similar thoughts in a statement released shortly after poll details were published Thursday night.

“It’s still early in the process, and while we would be pleased to see full support across the board, we recognize that it will take time and effort to successfully answer the important questions being raised by Bostonians,’’ the statement said. “As the public learns more, including information such as the favorable economic impact report by the Boston Foundation released just this week, we are confident that our partners at Boston 2024 will earn the support of the people of Boston.’’

Blackmun was referring to an economic impact report about the bid released on Wednesday, that suggested Boston could see billions of dollars in economic activity in the short-term from hosting the Olympics, though it also noted there could be risks in doing so.

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