The City of Boston expects to see changes to the 2024 Olympics plans after it has concluded its run of nine community meetings later this year, Mayor Marty Walsh’s liaison on the Olympic bid said at a Tuesday night meeting about the Summer Games.
“For the city, after these first nine meetings that end in September, we’d like to start seeing some real results produced,’’ said John FitzGerald, a Boston Redevelopment Authority official who is leading the city’s Olympics meetings.
Tuesday’s meeting, the third since Boston was named the U.S. bid city in January, was held at Harvard Business School in Allston. The meeting was the first since a poll showed just 36 percent support in the Greater Boston area for hosting the games, which prompted the United States Olympic Committee to say it still supports the Boston bid multiple times in March (including earlier in the day on Tuesday).
FitzGerald and officials from Olympics organizing committee Boston 2024 stressed on Tuesday night that the bidding process is still young and that the Olympic plans released earlier this year—aspects of which (such as plans to put a beach volleyball stadium on Boston Common) have led to some outcry—will be changed ahead of their eventual submission to the International Olympic Committee.
Boston 2024 architect David Manfredi likened the original plans to a “feasibility study.’’ He said the ongoing community meetings, as well as Boston 2024’s partnership with the USOC, which began when the USOC chose Boston as its bidding city, will help to shape future versions of the plans.
“These meetings are to listen to you guys,’’ FitzGerald added.
A Q&A session with the audience at the meeting showed that other elements of the plan beyond venues also remain to be determined.
• Manfredi said that the bid’s budget may change too depending on changes to the venue plan.
• Boston 2024 Vice President of External Affairs Nikko Mendoza said Boston 2024 is in the planning process regarding an insurance policy it hopes to eventually secure to protect the public from picking up the tab on budgetary shortfalls should Boston win the games. The group currently has a policy in place to cover the city for up to $25 million during the bidding process, which will run until mid-2017.
• When asked how the city and state would make up for lost revenue if the games were held here due to an established IOC requirement that the city secure all advertising space during the Olympics for the IOC, Mendoza said the group was unsure about the requirement.
Several members of the audience spoke Tuesday about the MBTA’s issues in relation to the bid, which has been a something of a motif over the last couple of months. One man said that Boston 2024 has not spoken much about the long-term benefit of hosting the Olympics, that it has not identified a clear legacy of doing so. He said it should be obvious: “Fix the T,’’ he said to applause.
Others took issue with the format of the city’s Olympics meetings, which have featured officials from Boston 2024 and the city. One woman called the format “propaganda,’’ and another called it “marketing material,’’ in suggesting Olympics opponents or skeptics should also participate. FitzGerald said that the point of the meetings is for the group to hear residents’ concerns and bring them back to the drawing board, not to debate the merits of bidding.
“It’s our third meeting. We’ve only had the bid for three months,’’ FitzGerald said as the meeting came to a close. “These will get better.’’
Boston 2024 Chairman John Fish and CEO Rich Davey were not present at the meeting, nor was Walsh. The next city meeting about the bid will be held April 28 in Roxbury.