The exploratory committee to investigate the feasibility of hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics in Boston moved forward on Thursday, when Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill, proposed by the state legislature to put together the committee, into law.
Corey Dinopoulos, co-founder of the Boston 2024 Organizing Committee, an advocacy group that strongly favors Boston as a host city for the summer Olympics in 2024, said the project would bring more than economic growth to the Commonwealth.
“Boston could realize far-reaching economic, business, and social benefits from hosting the Games,” he said. “Hosting the Olympics would bring Boston global recognition as a leading cultural, sports, educational, and business center…[and] a winning bid and successful Games could leave a lasting legacy of civic pride and greater sense of community.”
The United States Olympic Committee sent bid invitations to the country’s 25 largest cities in on March 8, as well as 10 other cities interested in hosting the 2024 Olympics.
Several public figures, including former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, voiced their support for the possibility of Massachusetts as a host for the games.
Mass. Rep. Chris Walsh, member of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, said he sees the Olympics as an opportunity to improve neighborhoods.
“If you go back and look at what London was able to do in terms of changing some neighborhoods and really revitalizing areas by bringing in these venues, I think it’s a really good idea,” he said. “One of the big projects we’d have to do is to get our regional transportation in order. That’s a great bootstrap, or step-up, to get things done that are little hard to do out of the normal budget.”
Walsh said one of the main priorities in the coming years would be designing facilities for the Olympics that would still be usable after the event concluded. “We will have to consider what happens after the Olympics with all of these venues,” he said. “We need to plan it so we have an ability to integrate them back into the communities and use these to make better places for us for everyday use afterwards.”
The Olympics would also bring many benefits to Massachusetts’ schools, Dinopoulos said.
“Imagine some new and improved athletic facilities that colleges and universities would take full advantage of after a Boston Games,” he said. “Not to mention a 19th-century transit system upgraded for a 21st century city.”
Although he supports the bid, Walsh said hosting the games would be difficult.
“Security, obviously, is a huge issue,” he said. “We had the Marathon bombing, Olympics in the past have had some issues. It’s a real opportunity to do something for these neighborhoods that you would never, ever get a chance to do.”
Some residents of Boston said they are eager for the opportunity to host the Olympics. Alicia Reihl, 52, of Boston, said the Hub would be an ideal host city.
“They’ll need to employ a lot of people to get everything ready in time,” she said. “So I think it’s going to benefit a lot of people in a lot of Boston neighborhoods.”
Reggie Rece, 47, of Roslindale, said the recent World Series win for the Red Sox demonstrates that the city is equipped to manage large sporting events.
“We’re already a big sports city, so we’re used to this.” he said. “Look at what a job the Boston police did on Wednesdayhandling the crowds at Fenway. They kept everything under control.”
Dave Vieira, 50, of the Fenway area of Boston, said he is skeptical about the effects of the Olympics on the Commonwealth.
“It could be really good, but I’m afraid business-wise,” he said. “Here at Fenway, with the last game, everything got shut down. There were a lot of small businesses that temporarily had nowhere to operate because of the security. It might work, but with so many people coming into the area, congestion is a huge concern. They need to consider the less obvious effects this enormous event will have on local business.”