Bostonians Don't Want to Host the Olympics

City's bid sparks backlash

Dec 5, 2014
Outside Magazine
boston olympics

Boston could well end up spending more than $19.2 billion on the Olympics if selected.    Bill Damon/Flickr

Boston submitted its bid on Monday to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, but many of the city’s residents aren’t happy about the idea of paying for the games—an average $19.2 billion cost.

Organizations like No Boston Olympics have sprung up, arguing that economists have found that no host city has enjoyed lasting economic benefits from the games. “The commonwealth has far bigger and more important priorities than throwing a three-week party,” Chris Dempsey, co-chair of No Boston Olympics, told NPR.

In fact, according to NPR, hosting the Olympics would cost more than five times Boston’s average annual budget of $2.7 billion. And with the Beijing Olympics costing more than $40 billion and the Sochi tab running up to $50 billion—the costliest games ever, according to Business Insider—Boston could well end up spending more than $19.2 billion average.

Many respondents to a Boston Globe poll in June felt the city has more important things to spend its money on. Patricia Stratton, a retired pharmacy technician, told the Globe: “It kind of burns my toast that we don’t already have the money for transportation and education. Why do we need the Olympics?”

Still, the sports-mad city’s bid has its supporters. “Hosting the games also presents an opportunity to reinforce Boston’s brand as a global hub for education, health care, and technology,” Erin Murphy Rafferty, vice president of pro-Olympics committee Boston 2024, told NPR. John Fish, chairman of Boston 2024 and CEO of Suffolk Construction, promised that corporate sponsorships would fund the entirety of the city’s $4.5 billion Olympic budget. According to the Globe, Boston 2024 is planning for such a low cost by building as few structures as possible, making use of temporary sports venues, and hosting some events at local colleges and universities. Rafferty told NPR that any facilities constructed specifically for the games could be repurposed afterward.

If Boston were to be seriously considered as host, groups like No Boston Olympics would introduce a ballot initiative prohibiting any taxpayer money from being spent on the games.

The U.S. Olympic Committee will decide which cities it will put forward to the International Olympic Committee in January. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, are also in the running for the United States. The IOC will announce the 2024 host city in 2017.

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