Metro, Top Story

Universities Would Play Major Role In Boston 2024

After a daylong meeting in Denver Thursday, U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) board members chose Boston over two-time host Los Angeles and other attractive options San Francisco and Washington D.C. as its bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, according to The Boston Globe. The USOC chose the plan presented by Mayor Martin J. Walsh, WCAS ’09, and Boston 2024 Committee chairman John Fish that promised frugality, while emphasizing Boston as a city steeped in sports tradition, reusable venues, and an abundance of colleges and universities in the area.

On Friday morning, the city of Boston and organizers of Boston 2024 hosted a press conference to outline the next steps of the city’s Olympic bid. Enthusiastic officials described the bid as a once-in-a-lifetime planning and economic opportunity for the city. Walsh and Fish also vowed to create a cost-effective Olympics that will not be paid for by Boston taxpayers.

“I am wicked excited, and Boston is wicked excited,” said John Fish, who is the chairman of Boston 2024, the privately-funded nonprofit organizing committee.

Walsh and newly-sworn in Governor Charlie Baker pledged transparency and an open line of communication amongst Bostonians moving forward. The city will host at least nine community meetings in neighborhoods throughout the city, beginning Jan. 27 and running through September. Walsh encouraged Bostonians in “every corner of the city” to voice their questions and concerns during the planning stages.

“I promise this will be the most open and transparent and inclusive process in Olympic history,” Walsh said. “I am excited to share our vision with the people of Boston and hear their thoughts on how we can work together to not only bring the Games to Boston, but create one of the most innovative, sustainable and successful Olympics the world has seen.”

Walsh and Fish described the bid as an opportunity to bring “Regional Games” to Massachusetts. The officials said their general plan is to use stadiums and facilities throughout the greater Boston area, particularly on college campuses.

“70 t0 75 percent of all of our venues here in Boston will be located on university campuses,” Fish said.

Boston’s compact Olympic plan leans heavily on existing venues, which could include Gillette Stadium, TD Garden, Boston College’s Conte Forum and Alumni Stadium, Harvard Stadium, and Boston University’s Agganis Arena. 28 out of the 33 planned sporting venues are within 10-kilometer radius, which is very attractive to Olympic athletes, according to Fish. In addition to sporting venues, local colleges and universities may be asked to provide housing for the games. Currently, an Olympic village is planned for the former Bayside Expo grounds near the University of Massachusetts Boston.

“Boston has put itself in such a very strong position from a competition point of view, because we have over 100 universities in our Boston community,” Fish said. “There is no other state or city in America that has that. All of those universities have a majority of facilities that we need, and if they don’t, they are planning today for the future.”

Three to four universities have been proactive in offering their facilities to the city of Boston and Boston 2024 directly, according to Fish. Harvard, MIT, and Tufts were mentioned in offering to build new venues, but the committee does not have a set partnership with the local universities. Boston College has not spoken directly about its involvement in the potential Olympic bid, but the University is willing to be supportive to the city.

“While we have not yet had formal discussions, we are happy to work with the Mayor and committee leaders to explore ways in which we can be of service to Boston regarding the Olympics,” said University spokesman Jack Dunn.

The USOC decision to select Boston as the United States’ bid city is the next step in the International Olympic Committee selection process. During the next two-and-a-half years, Boston will be part of a competition against some of the top cities in the world: Paris, Rome, Hamburg or Berlin, Budapest, and Istanbul. There will be an extensive review process before the IOC selects a winner in 2017.

Featured Image by Steven Senne / AP Photo

Heights Editor Michael Sullivan contributed to this article.

January 9, 2015