It’s easy to make fun of Boston 2024. Insert your favorite blunder here. But let’s take a look at the situation at the beginning, as if we haven’t watched it unfold in all its non-medalling glory.
Can Boston host a summer Olympics? Speaking for the Hub of the Universe, I believe we can. We are that great. A lot of people from around the world come here to go to school, and a lot of them are athletic. They run on the Charles, crew on the Charles, velodrome….bike along the Charles. We are way better than a whole bunch of venues who have already hosted Olympic games.
So, yes. We can host the games. The question becomes how to pay for them. We can pay for them or someone or someones who will see it as an opportunity to make money can pay for them. Or it can be a combination of the two. Why would we want to pay a portion of the tab if we aren’t going to make money? Well, we do this a lot. The Central Artery. Public Higher Education. We clearly see the benefit of both of those, I say humbly as a commuter into Boston and a graduate of UMass Dartmouth.
Insert your favorite Big Dig joke here. But the reality is that both the Central Artery and public higher education have paid off big time for Massachusetts. There are 250,000 graduates of UMass living, and paying taxes, and employing people, in Massachusetts.
So, where did Boston 2024 go wrong? Well, we’re all adults here. Us taxpayers have learned what things cost and how things are paid for. My father in law told me, when my children were small, that I shouldn’t worry about paying for their college. I took this to mean, in my relative youth, that he would pay for it. I now realize that he meant that I shouldn’t worry about paying for their college because it was so far off. My adult self is now facing that reality, and paying for Syracuse and Boston University.
Boston 2024 is now stuck. It told us it wouldn’t cost us anything. And, childlike, they hid the evidence of their transgression. Did you build a stadium and put it on Dad’s credit card? No? Really? You told Mom that everyone who game from Europe would be happy that we paid to extend the Blue Line to Lynn so they could take the T to watch volleyball in Nahant. That wasn’t true, was it?
The Big Dig cost 24 billion dollars of public money, and I would argue it will pay dividends. Harvard is raising 6 billion dollars in a capital campaign, and that will pay dividends. Businesses will make money off of the Olympics. Tell us how much, and who, subtract from the total cost of hosting the games, and come clean on how much public money you need.
Syracuse and BU are both 60 grand. That’s how much my kids have requested I pay. I will weigh the benefit to me, to them, and calculate the return on investment. I’m looking favorably on it. They have a lot of promise that I think can pay off over time. I think the same about the Olympics.
Just be honest about it.