Boston’s plans to host the 2024 Olympics are structured on two “clusters’’ of venues: one focused on South Boston and Dorchester and called the “Waterfront Cluster,’’ and the other incorporating Allston and Cambridge as the “University Cluster.’’
On Wednesday afternoon, Boston 2024 officials gave the press a look at the presentation it had made in December to the United States Olympic Committee, laying out that vision and more.
And in the evening, the group directing Boston’s bid gave a similar presentation to the public at its first “citizens advisory’’ meeting at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.
Boston 2024 also released the six bidding documents it sent to the USOC late last year. You can see them in full at the end of this article.
During the presentations, Boston 2024 representatives David Manfredi (of the architecture firm Elkus Manfredi) and Olympic wheelchair racer Cheri Blauwet talked through the basics of the bid, which featured renderings of a proposed Olympic Stadium at Widett Circle (which organizers are calling “Midtown’’), a Boston Common beach volleyball venue, and a reworked Dorchester Avenue that would serve as an Olympic Boulevard around the stadium during the course of the Games. The images supplemented renderings and plans previously released by Boston 2024.
The presentations also stressed the proximity of the city’s venues to one another, with 28 would-be Olympics locations falling within a 10-kilometer radius. (A few events, such as boxing at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell and soccer at Gillette Stadium, would be well outside city boundaries.) Boston 2024 has sold the Games over the last year as “walkable.’’
Boston 2024 President Dan O’Connell fielded questions following the media presentation. Multiple queries centered on the prospect of a referendum on the Games, which has been floated by opposition group No Boston Olympics, and which Mayor Marty Walsh said he “wouldn’t stand in the way’’ of on Tuesday.
O’Connell said Boston 2024 is “certainly hopeful there will not be a negative referendum’’ result for the Games. The Wall Street Journalreported Tuesday that if Boston were to hold a referendum, the USOC could renege on its selection of the city. He pointed to referendums in other countries over Olympic plans as an indication that holding one would not necessarily scare the USOC or International Olympic Committee away from Boston as a host city.
O’Connell said that if the Widett Circle stadium site did not work out—members of the wholesale cooperative New Boston Food Market that currently occupies much of it have said they’re not looking to leave—Boston 2024 could instead look to Suffolk Downs. But he said Boston 2024 has not pursued that idea to this point.
The Widett Circle stadium was also addressed in a question from the audience at the citizens meeting later on Wednesday asking what would happen to the wholesalers. O’Connell suggested they could move to another part of Boston such as the Marine Industrial Park, and that Boston 2024 could assist in that process. Asked later whether eminent domain would be used to acquire any land to host the Olympics, O’Connell said Boston 2024 “would not seek’’ eminent domain powers, and that the group would prefer to pay market value prices in acquiring private land as opposed to relying on the city’s use of eminent domain.
Manfredi said the future of Widett Circle post-Olympics would be in the hands of the city. Boston 2024’s planning documents suggest it could eventually be developed to serve a variety of uses, including as residential, retail, and office space.
O’Connell handled a question about why Boston 2024’s bid did not include much public input ahead of its selection by the USOC as the nation’s representative bid. The question drew some light applause from the audience. O’Connell said the series of State House hearings in late 2013 and early 2014 to look at the feasibility of a bid allowed the public some access to the process, and said the USOC had asked that plans be kept under wraps during the national bidding process (the USOC has said much the same). However, O’Connell offered his “apologies’’ that “there wasn’t as much outreach as there should have been, as there might have been.’’
Boston 2024 Chairman John Fish said at the outset of the evening meeting that the group would “commit to you…to approach (the bidding process) with intense discipline and rigor.’’
Questions at the citizens meeting were submitted in writing during the event, and Boston 2024 Executive Vice President Erin Murphy Rafferty said those that were not answered live will be answered later on the organization’s website. The next Boston 2024 citizens meeting will be held Feb. 23 at the Yawkey Club in Roxbury. The City of Boston is holding its first meeting about the bid next week.
Here are the six bidding documents released by Boston 2024 on Wednesday. Boston 2024 has repeatedly said its plans could change from this initial pitch to the USOC, but these show where things stand now.
Overall Games Concept
Key Venue Plan
Transportation, Accomodation, and Security
Sports and Venues
Political and Public Support
Bid and Games Budget
Correction: An earlier version of this article said 28 of 33 proposed venues were located within a 10-mile radius. They are located within a 10-kilometer radius, and the article has been updated to reflect that.