Bitch, please! If a dunghole like Atlanta can host the Olympics, so can Boston, local panjandrum says

Looks like the Globe's Shirley Leung has a one-way ticket on the express train to Olympicsville. Today, she quotes David D'Alessandro, you know, of the John Hancock D'Alessandros, on why a 2024 Olympics in Boston makes so much sense:

"Is it technically feasible? Of course it is," said D’Alessandro, who has attended eight Olympics. "If Atlanta can do it, Boston can do it, please. Atlanta is a second-rate city at best. And they pulled it off in 1996."

D'Alessandro then says, presumably with a completely straight face, that in a city in which people are forever figuring out new ways we can prove how world class we are, he and his fellow rich people aren't doing this because they have something to prove, but because they just want it. And what's wrong with that?

Meanwhile, the committee planning our bid has a list of venues all set, but is, of course, keeping that list secret.



    Free tagging: 


    Can we just steal the World

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    Can we just steal the World Cup from Qatar, have a few matches in Foxboro and put this Olympics nonsense behind us? That's all I ask.

    Better Idea

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    How about investing those billions of dollars instead into an upgraded public transport system that would provide a lasting benefit to the area? Instant World Class City.

    as much as i'd really,

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    as much as i'd really, genuinely love to see the public transportation system get some proper (and necessary!) investment, i think it'll be a cold day in hell before something of that scope happens without the pressure from something like the olympics coming.

    That is exactly the only

    That is exactly the only valid reason to support the idea of hosting an Olympics (my other reason is because my hobby is an Olympic sport so it would be cool to see it here, but that's just something for me). That point would be nullified if we actually build the stuff we need regardless, but we all know they rather foot drag over the next 50 years over for almost every project.

    Theoretically (and very theoretically as it is possible we could have an Olympics and they still build nothing useful for Boston), the Olympics would force up the timetable with a hard deadline.

    Come on! You know the only

    Come on! You know the only "investment" the MBTA would manage to make and complete would be to repaint the stars in Kenmore, ala the All Star Game. Or, maybe they'd paint Olympic Rings.

    Olympics have been a money loser for every city that's hosted them in recent times. I don't think Boston has the extra capital waiting around to invest.

    Come on! You know the only

    Come on! You know the only "investment" the MBTA would manage to make and complete would be to repaint the stars in Kenmore, ala the All Star Game. Or, maybe they'd paint Olympic Rings.

    Thisy this this. If anyone who thinks Boston would get any significant, lasting improvement in the MBTA infrastructure due to the Olympics, I've got a bridge to sell you, as soon as I finish replacing the salt and pepper shakers on it.

    as much as i'd really,

    as much as i'd really, genuinely love to see the public transportation system get some proper (and necessary!) investment, i think it'll be a cold day in hell before something of that scope happens without the pressure from something like the olympics coming.

    This sentence is nine words too long.

    And it begins

    The fact that an element of this is already being held secret at such an early stage is proof of how bad an idea this would be.

    And the mawkish carping yet another wealthy douche about how Boston is so much world classier than that grubby southern peach pit does resemble whistling in a graveyard.

    Getting from Point A to B, C, or D.

    It looks like what I see in my hobby. The earliest charter was to haul granite from Quincy and then a set of lines to the key area cities followed Lowell, Worcester and Providence.

    The Lowell was in competition with the canal, initially.

    It's impressive how much of that initial infrastructure still works.

    The Eastern Railroad line to Saugus and West Lynn is fascinating and strange. It'll be my next project and is an old route. I found the ghost of the Andover and Wilmington rail bed and one of its customers was a soapstone quarry

    the early charters for railroads were framed on the supposition that they would be used like turnpikes; and provided that any one might enter upon them with his own engines and cars, by paying tolls. Availing themselves of this provision, certain parties, in 1837, organized themselves under a charter for the Seekonk branch proposing to build about a quarter of a mile of road at the Providence end, and a separate station in Boston., and to use the whole intermediate part of the Boston & Providence road with their own engines and cars. For about three years, the operations of these parties were a serious annoyance to The Boston and Providence Railroad Company; but the matter was then settled by the purchase of the property of the intruding corporation, and the passage of a law by the Legislature forbidding one railroad corporation to enter with its engines upon the road of another company, unless by their consent.

    From an Appleton, no less.

    Erie Canal

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    Brahmins invested heavily in rail after the canal was built, as a way to try to keep up with New York. Didn't ultimately work, obviously, but was an example of Boston leading the way with a new technology.

    Oh totally.

    Canals were huge before rail.

    Washington endowed a college with Canal Bonds.

    And when you think of ca 1790s 'tech' they really are an impressive project for a wobbly little nation just shaking off the empire..

    This is a shot of the footing remnant over by the Mystic River Parkway.

    It's someone's canoe dock wall now but it shows how the canal ran above the river.


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    I heard somewhere that that house served as a tavern for the canal barge workers. Don't know if it's true.

    Atlanta graduated to roadways

    It grew transportation during mode shifts per the article. The point was the city grew around where two rail systems met. It grew around transportation and continued to grow rather than strangle the growth by strangling transportation. Boston and other older cities grew around ports before there was rail, then added rail, linking it to ports. As rail faded, Boston failed to grow air and road transit as aggressively as Atlanta and other metro areas that consequently grew larger than Boston.

    You're pointing to Atlanta road transit as a success?

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    I take it you've never actually tried to drive around Atlanta during rush hour? It makes 128 at rush hour look like a race track.

    The airport, I'll grant you. Of course, it's easy to build a giant airport in the middle of nowhere when you're surrounded by endless mile after mile of nowhere.

    The City of Atlanta has a considerably

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    smaller population than the City of Boston. Both metro areas are comparable in size. Atlanta suburban sprawl may be a little more geographically spread out, but it's not a coastal port city.

    Show of hands

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    Who pines for Boston to be more like Atlanta?

    (looks around)
    (keeps looking)

    Atlanta vs Boston

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    I remember seeing red a week or so ago when someone compared the transportation infrastructure of Boston unfavorably with Atlanta, so no, I would say that Boston compares well to Atlanta. Perhaps Boston is not as good as some other cities, but from what I have gathered, overall Atlanta is a crappy place to get around.

    Some innate differences

    Traffic is a barometer of economic success. When people don't have jobs to go to or products and services to deliver, traffic volumes decreased. With recovery, traffic volumes are also rebounding. Consider traffic volumes in Atlanta as the price of success.

    Metro Atlanta has a population 1 million greater than metro Boston, hence more traffic. The geographical area is about that of the state of Massachusetts, hence much lower housing costs from lower population density. The limiting factors of growth for cities is transportation, water, sanitation, energy, food, jobs, housing, and cost of living. Boston's ceiling is transportation and cost of living. Housing shortage and cost is satisfied by transportation to more distant areas, a dismal option here due to insufficient roadway capacity. Massachusetts is also hurt by having among the highest electric rates in the U.S. while Georgia is below average by state.

    Welcome to the 2000's

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    Traffic is a barometer of economic success.

    Was. Welcome to the era of the internet.

    Also, coal accounted for 12% of MA electricity in 2013. It accounted for 33% of Georgia's. In fact, at 10% of MA electricity, renewables are about to pass coal soon here. Georgia's nowhere close to that. Thanks. I'll pay a little more for living better.

    Also, we may have a few Washington Streets, but at least everything isn't named Peachtree.

    Also, the history of the Quabbin is what it is...but at least we have it. Atlanta's going to die of thirst pretty soon.

    Induced congestion

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    "Housing shortage and cost is satisfied by transportation to more distant areas, a dismal option here due to insufficient roadway capacity. "

    Adding capacity to roadways that are maxed out simply attracts more traffic. When highways are widened, there is a period when congestion is less, then the attracted new traffic jams it up again. This is an established tenet of highway engineering, confirmed by many studies, and is called "induced congestion." You can look it up. Or you could try out the rush-hour traffic on Rte 3 north of the city. It was widened a few years ago, but is now a mess again because of all the tax-free New Hamsters attracted to our unsuccessful economy.

    Induced congestion = economic growth

    Yeah, those extra drivers and trips are almost always to spend money or make money. Those NH residents found a better or more affordable place to live than metro Boston for their jobs. "Smart growth" believers rather force them to pay exorbitant real estate prices by choking transportation. Route 3 should have been doubled in width as the added lane each way only lasted 10 years. Very short sighted.

    Congestion and traffic = economic drain

    However, you cannot build more capacity without that capacity filling up again and again and again and all the expensive problems that means for society.

    Europe has a pretty good solution to this: rapid transit networks that take people and hour or more out of the cities.

    Double route 3? Oh you are a fool stuck forever in yesterday. By the way, you should know (if you weren't in general ignorance and denial about the true cost of driving) that building highway capacity is ridiculously expensive and a very very poor use of taxpayer dollars to subsidize suburbs and single-car commuters. Transit and trains are a vastly more cost effective solution. I somehow doubt NH is going to pay for it.

    Unless we are talking about drivers actually paying for this directly somehow - without raising my taxes.

    Vastly cheaper than building highways

    Just. effin. google. it.


    It has nothing to do with "profits". It has to do with subsidy and bulk cost. Mass transit wins per passenger per mile hands down, no contest.

    Farebox recovery ratio

    If you want to know how the Asian systems make a profit, a lot has to do with comparative cost and efficiency. Tolls alone are about 30 cents plus per mile. Getting to Tokyo from, say, Tsukuba would be easier, faster, and cheaper on a train than driving.

    Tsukuba - Akihabara

    Train: 45 minutes, 11 dollars fare
    Car: 1 hours plus traffic time, 22 dollars in tolls

    This is a distance of about 40 miles, or Worcester to Boston.

    Worcester - Boston
    Train: 1 1/2 hours, 10 dollars
    Car: 1 hour plus traffic time, $3.60 toll

    Which would you choose?

    What about parking though?

    I take the Franklin Line into South Station every once in a while. About $8 from Norwood to South Station in 35-40 minutes. If you need to park, its another $4.

    Probably about 45 minutes if you drove (during rush hour) with no tolls, $1.25 in gas, and $20-$30 to park. If you find a meter? Replace the parking with a $5-$7 meter fee for a day.

    I guess it all depends on where you need to go in Boston. It's pretty random in terms of service, cost, times, parking, meters, etc.

    In your case

    public transport here is already competitive with driving. I live in Boston, and that's true for me in many cases too.

    If the cost of driving were increased to the Tokyo level, it would be competitive for everybody else.
    That's the situation that creates a train system that pays for itself.

    Pike toll vs. train fare?

    What if we compared the toll on the Mass Pike to go from Boston to Springfield or Worcester to what the train costs? The train is much more expensive, especially if a car or bus has more than one person traveling in it for no extra cost.

    While the pike tolls were tied to the funding bond payments prior to the big dig, does Tokyo's tolls represent just the cost of the roads, or are they higher as in a tax on driving?


    Japan has decided to recover more of the externalities of road transit costs into toll charges.

    This may be seen as a tax on drivers if you wish.
    However, not doing so is seen by others as a subsidy for drivers.

    The toll on the Mass Pike doesn't even cover the Mass Pike's ongoing maintenance costs, let alone fund new construction; it runs a deficit of over 100M a year.

    If the Mass Pike were Amtrak, it would be called socialist. Every time you drive on it, somebody else pays for your privilege.

    Cherry Picking, Peach Picking

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    So. When are you moving? You seem to think things are much nicer for car-addled types such as yourself, despite what people who have lived there are saying.

    me thinks

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    the Globe wants this for the same reason all the other big money does: lining up to line their pockets. What no money to be made on the expanded BCEC, but there is here?

    Straw man

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    The question is not CAN Boston host an Olympics. The question is Should Boston host an Olympics.

    For most people in or near the city, the answer is no. Also, who really cares whether Boston makes some lame listicle of "world class" cities?

    Were you living here during

    Were you living here during the 1999 Ryder Cup tourny? A golf tournament at the Brookline Country Club somehow caused complete traffic gridlock every morning during its run. The Expressway was completely stopped. If a simple golf tournament held in one place can do that, can you imagine the mayhem that would result from a two-week event held at multiple venues in the Boston area? Nope, I can't.

    So I think whether or not Boston CAN host an Olympics is still a very valid question.

    The Expressway was completely

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    The Expressway was completely stopped.

    In other words, it was a day ending in "y"

    Especially during the Big Dig (1999 was its height) and mostly since, the Expressway is completely stopped, uh, every morning.

    We're not going to have an extra 2 million drivers

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    Assuming we go forward on this and "win" the Olympics.

    Most attendees would want public transport, which, were the T successful in providing, would be the one thing everyone would be happy about afterwards. Moreover, a lot of locals would turn tail and flee Boston for the duration- I may be wrong, but this has happened in other locales. Also, it's not like 2 million people will show up individually and want to drive. They will come in pairs, at least.

    The Ryder Cup was a pretty big deal, and the infrastructure was not (and I will say still is not) there. The Country Club has the huge downside of being in the kind of suburban but definitely not urban location, nice on most days but a horrible when thousands descend on it.

    In short, the traffic won't be good, but that's one of those "do we really want to do this" questions, since I am sure other applicants will have the same issues.

    Most attendees would want

    Most attendees would want public transport, which, were the T successful in providing, would be the one thing everyone would be happy about afterwards.

    ROFL. I'm sorry, I thought you were serious. This is pure gold.

    You do realize that if "Boston" wins the Olympics, the events are going to be held all over Eastern Massachusetts, right? Probably within the whole I-495 loop. Nobody's going to be "happy" about trying to attend events in Framingham or Foxboro or wherever if they have to get there via public transportation. Can you imagine? Let's say you're staying at a hotel in Waltham (if you're lucky; you could be staying in Worcester, or Seabrook) and you want to get to an Olympic event in Foxboro. You're going to do that without a car? Or you're going to drive into Boston and park at South Station? Let's get real, shall we?

    Bulk of the events would be in Boston

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    Sure, Foxborough would get soccer (along with venues across the country, if 1984 is a guide) but the big name events would be T accessible, and the Foxbouough option would be one of those infrastructure improvements.

    I will admit that some attendees will insist on driving, but one the other hand, you said 1 to 2 million. That number made me laugh, but I didn't fall on the floor. Were I drinking milk, all bets on milk out the nose would be off.

    Motor coaches

    play a big role in event transportation. Making Storrow and Memorial Drives able to accommodate them would be a wonderful thing in itself, though depriving news outlets of recurring events to report. With so many roads at or above capacity, construction periods would be very painful.

    Are you going to pay for this?

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    Out of your pocket?

    Oh, and there is this Interstate that can accommodate those buses already ... half a mile away.

    What a ridiculous waste of money further interstatizing our waterfronts would be. What an fool you are.

    If Atlanta is a 2nd rate city

    If Atlanta is a 2nd rate city after hosting the Olympics, why are we to believe Boston would become a 1st-rate city after hosting the Olympics? Their own logic makes no sense...

    Well to be fair...

    Maybe because they were viewed as a 3rd-rate city before?

    And more seriously, Atlanta Olympics is viewed as failure to my understanding - the only Olympics thus far that IOC closing speech didn't use the words apparently marking approval used in every other Olympics (I would quote it if I remember). They would nullify much of its theoretical gains in prestige.

    So if Atlanta is a second

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    So if Atlanta is a second rate city, is he implying that Boston is a first rate city? Because we aren't on the level of New York or London, so what are those? Or are we in between, like a first and a half rate city?

    I'm going to say it

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    She's right.

    We have some of the infrastructure right now, and some of the upgrades (MBTA! Hello!) to infrastructure would help us after the games, and we have locations (I would have hyped the old Beacon Yards, but that's just me) to build the things we don't have already. And, at the end of the day, we could pull off 2 weeks of Olympic insanity as well as Atlanta, Athens, and London did.

    The bigger question is, can we afford it? And as a followup, do we want to spend the money on it?

    But yeah, we could pull it off.

    Lessons from Rio

    Watch closely what is happening in Rio's difficulties funding and delivering infrastructure for the World Cup and Olympics. Costs for hosting are reaching, well, Olympic scale for a 2 week event (and the smaller special Olympics after). Facilities, transportation, electricity delivery, water delivery, sewage capacity, housing, communications, food delivery, trash removal, security etc. increases are all needed. Then what happens to those added capacities afterwards? Can metro Boston sustain the growth?

    I would think housing the least concern for olympics...

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    because we already have several Olympic villages built around the city. You call them Boston University and Boston College, amongst others. Nearly all of those dorms would be empty during the time of a summer Olympics, and all are (obviously) perfectly equipped to accommodate 100% occupancy from every other aspect (electricity, sewer, etc.).

    There might be lots of reasons not to host the Olympics. A housing problem is not one of them.

    pretty sure the IOC doesn't

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    pretty sure the IOC doesn't allow university dorms to be considered for the Olympic Village

    I've thought about that re:

    I've thought about that re: housing, and I can't imagine the IOC would go for it. Not having a single Olympic Village would create more security issues, plus having athletes spread out across the city wouldn't be good for international camaraderie. At least, that's probably what they'd say.

    Not to mention, students resident on campus for the summer wouldn't leave enough space available anyways.


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    If local construction magnates are the driving force behind this, there's no way ANYTHING already existing in this city is going to be good enough. Where's the money for them if we use stuff we already have?

    The IOC might say that - but it might not.

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    I have also thought about these things, but no one seems to know for sure whether the IOC would actually say any of them.

    Further, given the increasing number of venues that are having a hard time getting things together for Olympic events (e.g. Sochi, Rio), the IOC may, in any case, begin to look much more favorably upon potential host cities with existing facilities that they know will be maintained in good condition rather than grandiose new things that host cities promise and then fail to deliver. Dorms of well-funded universities (and particularly those that are relatively close) fit very well into that category.

    Add to this the fact that something like Conte Forum/Alumni Stadium or Agganis could serve as a pretty nice media center without too much alteration (they are already equipped for smaller scale, but not local access sized media coverage) and you're potentially handling two of the IOCs big concerns right there.

    None of this addresses what we all know is the biggest issue (transport), but it is something that Boston has definite legs up on the other U.S. (and probably) international competition. I don't think that the Olympics come to Boston, but my point was only that some of the "issues" are not as big as people make them seem, and are significantly smaller than other potential venues.

    Summer programs

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    That's not necessarily true. Most colleges and universities use their facilities over the summer for various activities. Some students stay on campus and do summer research programs. There are also usually summer camp programs for high school and grade school children hosted on campuses. If we wanted to use their facilities, they would need to be willing to give those programs up for a summer.

    the number of dorm rooms used

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    the number of dorm rooms used for such programs are relatively small, and can be shifted away from the ~ 3 week event period - not the whole summer.

    Edit: I ask the following question: if this were going to happen and every politician at every level and every big business person in town came to the universities and said (years in advance) "hey, we need you to help and to house your summer program students elsewhere or shift a session or cancel a session for the summer of 20.." does anyone really think that the universities would say no?

    If you think that, you haven't the vaguest notion of how things work in this town.

    Just pay them

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    They have summer programs to make money. Just pay them the value of the foregone revenue from closing programs and dorms for that period. Still cheaper than building new facilities.

    Only two ways I'll support this.

    1) If the city makes it illegal for my landlord to profit off of this at the expense of any and all long term tenants. Meaning they can't raise our rents for the summer, nor can they kick us out to make massive profits by renting out to Olympic participants of any type (athletes, spectators, media, other) for the duration of the events.

    2) We get a large injection of cash to better the T hardware, and NOT the T union.

    You forgot

    You forgot

    3) Ponies

    I'm not sure how you would enforce #1, or what the regulation would even look like. People either have leases or they have month-to-month tenant-at-will agreements. In either case, I'm not sure what legal basis the state would have for unilaterally altering the terms of such contracts.

    On #2, whatever you're smoking, pass it over here, bro.

    Yes, I understand what the

    Yes, I understand what the problem is, and it happens in every city that hosts the Olympics. What I don't understand is what the specific solution would be, other than just saying "don't let them do this". If you live in a tenancy-at-will apartment, your landlord has the right to raise your rent at any time with 30 days notice (or whatever it says in your contract). You signed the contract, and accepted the terms. Why should that contract be invalidated because of a sporting event?

    Thank You

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    This is exactly what happened in Atlanta!!! My rent went from a nice 650/mo to 4500/mo (well for July 15 to Aug 15).

    I had to move in with friends to stay in Atlanta (and stay at my job in Dunwoody) otherwise I would have had to leave for the summer (like many Atlanta residents did)

    SO many things wrong with this article (not Uhub, but the comment about Atlanta from this chick at the Glob). Maybe I'll comment later (big fire at work and only typing this while I woof down a cheeseburger to stop the coffee shakes)


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    In Atlanta, that's not whackadoodle.


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    Given that D'Alessandro dropped an unasked for insult on their city, a fair number of them are being pretty gracious.

    Say no to the Olympics

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    I don't want to have to put debris and dead bodies in the Charles to compete with Rio. We'd just have to end up spending more money to fish them all out afterwards.


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    It just came to me when I saw how Leung had italicized "please" in her D'Alessandro quote about Atlanta - I suddenly pictured this insurance executive getting all huffy.

    The suffocating embrace

    of the hick insurance oligarchs here may well be the most significant obstacle to getting this old hag of a city the world class accolades it pitifully craves.

    Let's have our true guardians of probity and sound sense handle the larval stage fiasco.

    Put Grover Norquist in charge, like yesterday and drag that Barbara Anderson woman out of whatever obscurity took her and have her work out the budget.

    Get Mittins back from his exile in San Diego as he magically graced Salt Lake City with the Olympiad shine.

    Oh and trot out our Beloved Jane Swift to cover operations.

    The Dems can work the graft angles from the sideline like always.

    This will be Terry Murray's finest hour..

    Just look at Montreal 40 years ago

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    Just ask anybody from Montreal if the 1976 Olympics were worth it.

    Originally, the Games were budgeted to break even at a cost of $310 million. But there was a slight miscalculation of about 500%, and everybody is going to have to dig deep to pay off losses on what has become a $1.5 billion boondoggle.

    I can see it now

    All the budget gets blown, then they cancel all the transit enhancements, substitute Olympic shuttle buses everywhere, and dump the shuttle busing costs on the MBTA.

    Cue douchebag State Senator from Northampton with the usual "can't subsidize Boston" line.

    Look at it this way...

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    Atlanta got the 96 Olympics because-

    1. CNN
    2. Ted Turner

    Enough said.