The Cambridge City Council has voted in a policy order to make known that they are opposed to the 2024 Boston Olympic bid. I get the impression that no one in the group to bring the 2024 Olympics to Boston thought to discuss their plan with surrounding communities to feel the waters, so to speak.
I cannot believe that any serious person would think that hosting the 2024 Olympics here in Boston is a good idea. And with such a relatively small window to prepare, it is quite unrealistic. In fact, it is hands down one of the dumbest ideas I have heard put forth in a long time.
Where would we put it all?
Yes, I know Kelly has talked about this already, but I have to throw in my own two cents worth, because this is something that has actually gotten me quite a bit fired up and angry. It is yet another case of the privileged few dictating to everyone else.
It seems to me that virtually every Olympics in recent decades has turned into gigantic boondoggles that went WAY over budget and inevitably end up creating all sorts of venues and spaces that don’t get used once the Olympics are over. Am I wrong? Read anything about Montreal in 1976? It took them thirty years to pay off that stadium, and the thing doesn’t get used a lot these days. An Olympics would probably cost $15 to $20 billion, maybe as much as the Big Dig, and that took 15 years to complete. And it went WAY over budget. The city of Boston’s annual budget is somewhere around $2.5 billion dollars, which would be a drop in the bucket for an event of this magnitude. We would have less than 10 years to prepare. And not just the venues, but the basic infrastructure. There is not enough room on the roads, not enough parking, not enough capacity on public transportation. The city struggles with managing crowds for July 4th, and that’s only a day, or maybe a long weekend. This would be for three weeks. And the tightened security would almost certainly be going on long before then.
Where will the money come from? The state has a pretty sizable deficit and is not going to be able to do a lot to help, I think. Sure, supposedly private contributions will come in, yadda yadda yadda, but every city has to sign an agreement that says it will pay for everything if the private funding falls short. What a great idea. Why spend billions of dollars fixing things like bridges and roads and schools when we could spend that money creating a 100 acre Olympic village somewhere? Inevitably by driving out hundreds of working people from their homes? You think they are going to use “eminent domain” on the Back Bay, or some other rich neighborhood? Hell no. They will force families out of places like Mattapan or Dorchester or even East Cambridge so they can build whatever the hell they want for their Olympic boondoggle. Gosh, that sort of thing worked so well the first time Boston tried it.
And then there’s the Olympic organizers themselves. I have suffered through quite a few Boston Brahmins and wannabe-Brahmins in my days, and let’s just say that I do not suffer that sort of thing lightly. If you have an entitlement streak, you are probably not going to win me over to your side. So what sort of people are we talking about? Just ask Norway, who had the sense to give up on hosting the 2022 Olympics once they realized the IOC is a bunch of insufferable entitled jerks.
So where’s the benefit? Sure, I bet some developers might be able to walk away with a lot more money than they already have. That’s a given when it comes to any city hosting the Olympics. But they would be one of the few groups benefiting from a Boston Olympics, and certainly their benefit would be far out of proportion to any benefit anyone else might get. There would be some construction jobs, at least for a while. And then the Olympics themselves might provide some jobs, again, for a little while. And of course the security will be over-the-top and ridiculous, inconveniencing anyone and everyone, even if they want nothing to do with the Olympics. And of course there will be even worse traffic. And the crowds on the T will be worse. And when it’s all over, and the bill comes due, we will have to ask ourselves if it was all worth it, and I can guess what that answer will be.
No. Just no.
Let’s stop this before it really gets started. If Rome or some other city wants this, let them have it. We don’t want it and don’t need it. Boston is already a world-class city without spending billions of dollars (almost certainly taxpayer dollars) on something like this. If millionaires and billionaires want this, let them pay for it.