Boston 2024 plans to release a major overhaul of its proposed plans for the Olympics next month, group CEO Rich Davey told a City Council committee today.
The revised plan would provide new details about possible venues, housing and other infrastructure, and may include locations outside of Boston or even New England, Davey said this morning, at at a hearing called by Council President Bill Linehan's Special Committee for the Olympics.
The initial plan, which helped Boston win the USOC nod to become the official US entrant for the games, included facilities in parks, such as the Common and Franklin Park, whose advocacy groups either opposed or said they needed far more details on to support.
Davey said his group is continuing to fine-tune its proposal under the International Olympic Committee's new guidelines for hosting more sustainable games - the 2024 games will be the first under this Olympic Agenda 2020.
Davey was one of four participants on the Olympic panel at this morning's hearing, the first of four hearings by the special committee this spring and summer to discuss Boston's bid.
Angela Ruggiero, a four-time Olympic ice-hockey medalist and a member of the IOC, said the sustainability goals give would-be host city's a lot of flexibility to design cost-effective and sustainable games. "The IOC says if you don't have a venue that makes sense, you can put one in another city because that's sustainable," she said. "You can put one in New York."
Davey also mentioned the help of other cities saying, "It could be judicious to allow some cities in Massachusetts or around the U.S. to help boost revenue or decrease loss." Davey mentioned New York and Chicago as examples.
Ruggiero referenced leveraging existing facilities as event venues – college stadiums in Greater Boston, for example – as another way of being sustainable and "changing the blueprint" of the Olympic Games.
Several councilors, however, said they continue to be concerned about the potential costs to taxpayers - despite repeat promises from Boston 2024 that there will be none - as well as issues related to the displacement of residents and gentrification in areas nearest some of the proposed venues.
At-large city councilor Ayanna Pressley said that while she admires taking a leap of faith and thinking big, she does not yet see a specific plan for dealing with displacement issues.
"I believe in the merit and transformative power of sport but I’m just not sure on legacy side of this, what is the plan to get there?" she asked. "We can wrap our arms around the global community but we have to wrap our arms around the people who are already here. I don’t see a plan. If this is an opportunity for us to be a world model when it comes to inclusion and embracing a global community, there is nothing I can point to right now that we are doing that I can say we can scale up to the Olympics. Very good will and good intention, but we need a pointed plan."
Davey and Sara Myerson, Boston 2024's executive director of Olympic planning, assured Pressley a plan is in the works - and answers should start coming soon.
"We're working under the assumption that the city is not going to be contributing any tax dollars to the construction of stadiums or infrastructure," Davey said. Ruggiero noted that this is unique to the United States; many other countries have sports ministries within their national government.
"We're only about 120 days into this," Davey said, alluding to the unofficial Boston bid announcement in January. "We have nine and a half years left - we don't have a moment to lose."
The Boston bid is currently in the "invitation phase," meaning that it has the full support of the U.S. Olympic Committee but has not yet been officially nominated; despite concerns in Boston, USOC officials continue to say they back Boston. After reviewing official nominations, the IOC will vote on a final city in 2017.