Monday, February 22, 2010

Could Boston (and BC) host an Olympics?

I know BC has to sell its soul to the neighbors just to get a Thursday night ESPN game, but with the Olympics on every night, I've been wondering should Boston put a serious bid together for a future games? The city could join with a New Hampshire resort to host the Winter Games, but I think the Summer Games would be ideal. The Olympics are an infrastructure nightmare, but Boston could pull it off precisely because of all the colleges in town. The city also benefits from having an international airport, plenty of hotel rooms and decent public transit. Think about, BC alone could potentially host basketball and/or boxing at Conte. Field Hockey could be played Alumni. BC could also host softball. I assume the Marathon would use the Boston Marathon's route and run right by campus.

Fenway would probably host all the baseball events. Gillette could host soccer. The Garden could host gymnastics and/or basketball. And most local colleges could get in on the sports we only care about during the Olympics: badminton, wrestling, weight lifting, etc.

The three things Boston would need would be a Track & Field Stadium, a Swimming & Diving Center with significant spectator seating and an Olympic Village. But instead of building three "white elephants" a Boston bid could follow the lead of my current hometown of Atlanta. Atlanta built a Olympic Stadium and converted into a baseball stadium. They turned the Olympic Village into dorms. The Aquatic Center was built on Georgia Tech's campus and then renovated to remove some of the stands.

I am sure UMass Boston would gladly "host" the Village in exchange for new dorms. Many local schools would gladly take a brand new swim complex. The tricky Boston venue would be the Olympic Stadium for Track & Field. The only current complexes near the city that might have the space to convert to an Olympic Stadium and then convert back to a more appropriate permanent space seem to be Alumni, Harvard Stadium and Nickerson Field. Would any of the schools be willing to go through four to six years of building and reconfiguring just for the honor hosting the Opening Ceremonies and getting a face lift to their current stadium? I think BC would pass. I don't know about the politics or logistics at the other schools.

Just because Boston could be a good host doesn't mean it ever will. To secure the Games, you need a major driving force. The Fenway Sports Group would seem like a logical leader, but my guess is that they would rather invest in sports and events that have a more predictable and immediate return on investment.

For now I guess it is just blog fodder but certainly let me know what you think.


mod34b said...

Good Fodder, ATL.

Boston seems to be a great spot for summer Olympics in 2020. 100,000 empty dorm rooms for starters! Lots of potential venues, etc. A city with great character. I love the idea. And 3 biggish nearby airports – Logan, Green, Manchester, all have major airlines using them.

Seems that the Mass Legislature has been thinking about this since 2007:

“The Massachusetts Legislature's Joint Tourism Committee said it is considering a bill that would create a commission to study the feasibility of hosting a summer Olympic Games, reports Metro West Daily.
Senator Pam Resor who works on the committee said, “I think it’s very worth looking into. There are a lot of venues in the Boston area that would lend themselves well to that kind of an event and it would certainly bring attention to all we have to offer”.
Rep. Paul Frost said that including all of Massachusetts and neighbouring states in the process has two advantages, sharing the work and the benefits of a potential bid, and promoting New England as a venue for other sporting events. He admitted it would be closer to decades than years before Massachusetts could be ready to host the Games, citing 2020 as the earliest possible year. He said, “we have to start somewhere”.”

But , all these things come to quick ends too. He is what Wiki says

Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Tulsawere considering a bid for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Some sources perceived that American cities had a better chance of success following the failed bids of New York and Chicago in 2012 and 2016, respectively. However, during the Vancouver Olympics, USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky claimed no plans in bidding for the 2020 games stating "The (IOC) sent us a message, loud and clear, that they don't want the Games to be in the United States".

Maybe Boston 2024! Maybe Scott Brown and Ayla, with olympic managerial input from Mitt, can make the pitch!

matthew2 said...

way to throw in a political comment at the end, mod... that hasn't gotten old yet at all.

"Any most local colleges could get in on the sports we only care about during the Olympics: badminton, wrestling, weight lifting, etc. " what.... the Plex wouldn't be good enough??? haha

As of now, baseball and softball are no longer in the olympics... though I am aware that they can be voted back in.

I don't see it happening for many reasons, but it is definitely fun to think about!

Unknown said...

Speaking from some professional experience in the Olympic bid process and spending the summer of 2008 in Beijing, MBTA cannot handle a Summer Olympics by any means (as it stands); a couple dozen more hotels need to be built; many more cabs need to come about, etc. etc.

The venues might be there but the infrastructure to handle fans for 16 days lacks.

Even then, emerging markets are the name of the game for the IOC. If the USOC, as expected, doesn't bid for 2020, you've given Africa / India / others a lot of time to catch up for the 2024 bid.

Never say never...ATL was conceptualized by private citizens who thought it was a good idea. A few benefactors and the wheels start rolling. Games are awarded 7 years prior, with the bid process officially starting approx. 2 years before that.

Winter Olympics with a NH resort is an interesting idea...a city of Boston's size is much better equipped for the Winter Games.

blist said...

Certainly Boston has a tradition of finding momentum behind huge infrastructure projects, which the Olympics would require. Every city in the country (well, every older city - Boston, NYC, Chi, etc) are under-hoteled, as they say. so unless the IOC wants Las Vegas or Orlando to host an Olympics,it's a problem every US city has. YOu can make up for that with empty dorm-rooms, as someone suggested.
Two problems I see though - isn't it still pretty far to world class downhill olympic skiing (3 hours) from Boston? There is decent skiing closer, but not Olympic. Then all of the sudden you're probably just 3 hours east of Lake Placid, which seems too close to that old venue. Why not award the games to Burlington then?
Plus, (my impression) the IOC like to see their palms greased or at least very well taken care of above the board. I don't see Boston playing that game.
Big plus for the US: our TV generates most of the money they make.
It sure would be a nice way to get a new Plex

Goberry said...

Its the little things that I think would prevent Boston from being considered (or wanting it.) Can you imagine the headaches that would be caused if the city tried to build a vendome in one of its neighborhoods?

(to save you the trouble of Googling it, its an indoor bike track.)

SectionKK said...

The last major event that Boston hosted was the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Most people who lived in Boston that summer, I think, would agree that it was a mess. There were huge logistical and security problems. It felt like living in a police state. Boston seemed completely overwhelmed by hosting an event that is very modest compared to a Summer Olympics.

The only good thing I could see coming out of it is that it would force some investment in the T, which is currently an embarrassment and is dangerously falling apart. Bottom line: it's a bad idea and Boston can't handle it.

Ry said...

goberry, i guss you didn't look it up either. An indoor bike track is called a velodrome.

Erik said...

A grab bag of thoughts & reactions:

BC would be an ideal choice to get the new Aquatics Center (as part of an entire new Plex). Sidenote: It would be hilarious if we made fans park at the Needham Satellite lots and get bussed in.

Harvard Stadium would be good for any non-major sport, it has so much history and is visually appealing.

I used to think that cities needed to build all new facilities but last week I was looking up the Vancouver facilities and they all have been in existence for years. They've proven to me the IOC will allow cities to use existing buildings.

I think most people in Mass would complain and not want to sacrifice parts of their lives for the greater good of their Region hosting the Olympics. People here just aren't friendly enough to suck it up.

Boston doesn't really need the boost. We do well on tourism already because of the history and the Universities, so I'm not sure the investment would pay off in additional tourism and notoriety.

I'm officially on Ayla Brown overload. She seems like a great kid and has all the talent in the world and a great work ethic and a proud Eagle, but I'm not sure I can handle anymore Ayla exposure.

I agree that the track & field complex would be so hard for the region. The only post-Olympics use for a stadium like that is pro football or Euro soccer. The Patriots are all set, BC is not an candidate (though maybe by 2020-something we'll want to be off campus due to less and less parking and pissed off Alumni not wanting to pay $15,000 annually to the Flynn Fund). So where could you build it, and what could you use it for afterwards..... This is a stretch, but upgrade the UMass Amherst stadium?

Bravesbill said...

The Summer Olympics in Boston would be a horrible idea. Number 1, the weather is absolutely brutal. Number two, Boston does not have all the facilities to host the Olympics. Number 3, Boston is too concentrated and small to host the Olympics. Image the nightmare it would be cramming everyone into a geographically tiny city, with all the residents that are currently there. A nice, spread out city like San Diego, that has all the facilities already and has a much nicer climate, would be much better than Boston.

blist said...

Bravesbill, do you remember summer in Boston? It's freaking beautiful. The Europeans would love it too, no people collapsing from humidity. The danger would be Yankees-Red Sox overshadowing the Olympics.
San Diego is one of the world's most boring cities, have to say.

mod34b said...

Avg. Monthly high temp for July

San Diego 75
Boston 82
Atlanta 90

Avg. precip for July

San Diego 0
Boston 3.06'
Atlanta 5.6'

B-Bill you must have left BC every May and never returned until September. It's very nice here in the summer. You might ask yourself why "the" summer destination in the US is Nantucket and MV, if the weather was not awesome?

Unknown said...

Boston is always busy with tourists from the US and abroad during the summer so I can easily see it being attractive to people who like to travel to Olympics. A commission definitely started the work of preparing a bid for one of the recently awarded Olympics so it clearly is something Boston officials would pursue. Boston can be humid in the summer but less so than most other East Coast cities. Someone mentioned that Boston has the political will to get major infrastructure projects done. Projects like the Big Dig were envisioned and steered by Tip O'Neill and Ted Kennedy and political forces like those two don't exist for Massachusetts anymore. It would be fun to have Boston host either a summer or winter Olympics. And San Diego is far from boring, it is world classs and beautiful.

mattfitz said...

The next US city to host the winter Olympics will probably be Denver so I don't think Boston is a possibility any time in the next 40 years.

mod34b said...

RFH -- Denver was considering a bid for the 2018 winter olympics, but that has been scuttled.

Goberry said...



mattfitz said...

mod, I think that they scrapped the plan to bid because it was made clear to the USOC that the games won't be back in the US (or western North America, for that matter) that soon. Also, based on the last two rounds of bidding, PyeongChang looks like a lock in 2018. I would look for Denver to bid for either 2022 or, more likely, 2026.

SDEagle said...

Blist - We must have differing definitions of the word boring. I know plenty of New England BC alums living out here and I don't hear too many complaints. Beautiful weather all year, beaches, mountains and desert all within a short drive, outdoor activities all year, tons of bars and restaurants downtown and by the beaches, tons of tourist attractions (good for the rugrats too) and the list goes on.

On a side note related to the track stadium, BC is incapable of even providing its own athletes with a decent indoor or outdoor track. No reason to think they'd be capable of providing one for the Olympics. The fact that the team has had to travel to local high schools to practice is ridiculous. With all the land BC just acquired, I have no idea why building a track is so difficult.

John said...

Denver was awarded the 1976 Winter Olympics....and then turned them down (so imagine those 1000's of people celebrating in the streets of Rio...and then saying I'll pass)

I have a feeling the IOC wont forget about that.

CHI_Eagle said...

Remember how crooked things went with the Big Dig. Imagine that times 100. It would be a nightmare. The same reason I'm glad we didn't get the 2016 games in Chicago.

Erik said...

SD Eagle,
The outdoor track won't happen,. it is truly unfortunate. However, an indoor track is realistic if they just knock down the plex and build a big new complex like BU's where the general student population can exercise and play basketball, plus include a competition indoor track and swimming pool for the varsity athletes. That needs to happen. The Plex was a joke in the 90s, its pathetic now. BU & NOrtheastern blow BC out of the water for student facilities.

Bravesbill said...

Ah yes, criticize my weather opinion (Boston is still humid, although not nearly as bad as Atlanta; but San Diego has much better weather), but ignore all the other reasons why having the Olympics in Boston would be a terrible idea. Genius.

mod34b said...

B-Bill -- go right outside into the SD sun and absorb as much as you can -- it will lighten that dark spirit of yours!

Bravesbill said...


Too bad I'm not in SD, which is quite depressing. Apparently the Army likes to locate its bases in the ass middle of nowhere, or in not so nice cities.

mattfitz said...

John, there are 3 members of the IOC left from when Denver walked away in 1972. I do think it has really hurt Denver's chances since then but the Games have changed so much since then that I think they will eventually give Denver a 2nd chance.

eagleboston said...

3 words that explain why Boston is completely incapable of hosting the Olympics:

The Big Dig.

BaldEagle90 said...

Hmmm. Big Dig and the corrupto-crat nature of the IOC selection committee might be the only thing Boston has going for it for an Olympic bid.

Boston's pleas to have the horrible rabble called its residents and tax payers to STAY OUT OF THE CITY and DON'T COME TO WORK during the 2004 DNC is a telling tale of its inability to handle any national, much less international, event that results in a horde of visitors (and don't babble on about Big Ships etc. Anyone with a brain doesn't get near the city during that tourist trap on water).

Unknown said...

Boston2024!! Boston needs to bid for the 2024 Summer Games. It's possible and this city should go for it.