Boston chosen as 2024 U.S. Olympic bid city, people who’ve actually been to Boston laugh and laugh

San Francisco’s 2024 Olympic committee made a last-ditch addition to their bid on Wednesday, adding a plan to build a main stadium in Oakland that could later be used for the Raiders … and you know what, we don’t have to give another thought to that, because San Francisco is not getting the 2024 Olympics. Yesterday, in a bit of an upset, the U.S. Olympic Committee picked Boston as its candidate to host those Summer Games, knocking out San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

At least in theory, Boston got the nod in part because its plan would rely less on building tons of new white-elephant stadiums and velodromes and such, which it has gotten a wee bit of flack for in the past:

Boston’s compact Olympic bid leans heavily on existing venues, such as TD Garden and college facilities, including Harvard Stadium, Boston College’s Conte Forum, and Boston University’s Agganis Arena.

Current plans call for a temporary Olympic stadium at Widett Circle, along Interstate 93 near Frontage Road south of downtown, for opening and closing ceremonies and track and field events. An Olympic village to house the athletes is planned for the former Bayside Expo grounds, with units converted to workforce housing or student dorms for the University of Massachusetts Boston.

That’s certainly all well and good, as is the Boston committee’s promise not to use “public money beyond what is already planned to be spent on infrastructure.” (Albeit that’s a bit of a worrisome fudge.) Even temporary stadiums cost money, though, and while Boston 2024 says most of the $4.5 billion budget would be paid for with Olympic revenues, history isn’t real promising there, even for cities like London that claimed they’d be keeping costs down by repurposing existing venues. The citizen group No Boston Olympics has projected that an actual Boston price tag could be anywhere from $5 billion to $20 billion, which is an awful lot of billions that wouldn’t be accounted for by sponsorships and ticket sales and the like.

The Olympic stadium could end up doubling as a new facility for the New England Revolution (it’s the same site as the team has targeted for a soccer-only building), though as USA Today Nate Scott points out, this could end up just taking Revolution owner Robert Kraft off the hook for building a stadium himself, while simultaneously delaying completion of the place for nine years. (Assuming Boston gets the Olympics; otherwise Kraft could always jump back in once the IOC tells Boston to take a hike.) Scott also includes some much better reasons to be fearful of a Boston Olympics, though, with one item in particular that stands out for me:

Boston sold itself as a frugal option to host the Summer Games, and part of that was by saying Boston would host a “walkable” games. That is all well and good, but if you know Boston, you know that the sites these events would have to be hosted at — Fenway Park, whichever colleges host gymnastics and other indoor events, TD Garden possibly, the new stadium they’re proposing in South Boston — are nowhere near each other.

Which means: Driving.

Driving in Boston is a harrowing experience. The roads, which are more or less the old cow paths in the city that they just paved over however many hundreds of years ago, make no sense. Streets are one way for a little while and then go one way the other direction. I know it doesn’t seem possible, but it’s a real thing in Boston. This happens frequently. 

For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of driving in Boston, this is, if anything, an understatement. The first time I tried to drive to Fenway Park, I ended up on a road that headed toward the ballpark just long enough for me to glimpse it, then curved gently away, steering me in any direction but the one I wanted to go in. The last time I tried it, I had plans to get off the Mass Pike and find a T stop to park-and-ride from, only to find myself unable to exit (Boston seems to have gotten a bulk discount on “NO TURNS” signs), driving all the way through downtown, into Cambridge, and back out again, finally parking at the distant Alewife station over an hour later and taking the T from there.

All of which is to say: As much as I, as a sports fan, would normally cheer a Boston Olympics as one that I could potentially attend without actually having to deal with the nightmare of having it hosted in my home city, there is no way in hell I’m going near Boston with an Olympics going on there. Not that I think the IOC will ever choose Boston in a million years, but at least they’ll always have their boarding passes to remember this by.

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14 comments on “Boston chosen as 2024 U.S. Olympic bid city, people who’ve actually been to Boston laugh and laugh

  1. As someone who lived in Massachusetts for 39 years:
    1. Driving in Boston is a terrifying experience unless you are from there
    2. Most or all of the venues are near the subway
    3. You can fly into Boston or Providence then take the commuter train and/or subway to the proposed venues

    With that said, I hope Boston does not win the bid because we all know they will get shafted financially, and those 2-3 weeks will be a traffic nightmare for the locals.

  2. I’ve only been to Boston before the “Big Dig” completed. One of the highlights was trying to get from Logan to Waltham in the late evening. It took almost 3 hours to get from Logan to the Mass. Turnpike as only the original tunnel could be used by ordinary traffic. The next time up, I took a cab which used the new tunnel and I was there in less than 25 minutes. I’ve since been there and only taken hired transportation. I cannot imagine what anyone is thinking by increasing the crowds and traffic there. For that matter, Logan airport is one of the worst airports I’ve ever visited or used. It’s walkable only because trying to drive in Boston is horrid.
    The best driving tip I ever got for the area was: “The guy next to you will always cut you off..see? He just did”.
    Please have the Olympics there. Just so I can make sure not to go anyway in case I forget my medications.

  3. I should say that I actually quite enjoy Boston when I’m not saddled with a car. But the notion of doing anything there that requires actually getting from Point A to Point B in any kind of timely fashion seems completely insane.

  4. *Whew*. The US isn’t getting the 2024 Olympics. Let some other sucker take on that money loss.

  5. The spending could be troublesome, but the driving isn’t a big issue. Given the city’s outstanding transit and previous success moving VIPs around during the DNC, I’d take a city with everything within 15-20 minutes over a city (Atlanta) where you have to drive 45-60 minutes to some venues.

  6. I don’t know if Atlanta is the best comparison — it’s possibly the worst city for traffic and transit I’ve ever been to.

    Also, conventions draw a heck of a lot fewer people than Olympics, no? Even with all the media in tow, I’d imagine a convention maxes out at 20-30,000, while the Olympics has many times that, with multiple venues in operation at once.

  7. Boston did not seem to be the strongest Olympic candidate city. The cynic in me thinks the USOC believes 2024 is going to Europe since in IOC logic and geography, North America, Central America and South America are the same continent and so we would have had Rio 2016, then Tokyo 2020 and, thus, Europe is next in line. USOC figures why waste the candidate they want, San Francisco, and a good backup, Los Angeles, during European’s turn.

    Good luck, Boston. You still may win it. 2024 could turnout like 2022 Winter Olympics with cities dropping out like flies. You may win by default just like Beijing will win 2022 (nobody is going to Kazakhstan, nobody) and boy will the USOC be surprised.

  8. I don’t know; as far as transit goes it probably is the best option outside of NYC in the New England area. The question will be has the IOC understood the brunt of it’s public shaming after leaks of wanting to be treated like kings, and the absurd restrictions and modifications that they ask for. I suspect not, considering the Boston bid still speaks about building dedicated Olympic stadiums and an Olympic village in a space that has no more space to give.

    Even with the supposed move towards reusable facilities, it is hard to imagine how that is possible considering the requirements for some of the events by design. For example canoe salom has pretty much always had a man made course. It is hard to see how that can be repurposed or reused in any fashion in a place as cold as Boston. Then we have the horse events, which will require extensive modifications of any existing horse center, as they will have to accommodate not only their usual users, but also have sufficient stalls and facilities for the horses coming in. I’ll be honest, considering the scope of the games, it is simply not possible for ANY city to realistically host them.

  9. Maybe “never in a million years” was a bit strong. (Never in a thousand years?) But the IOC likes places that are easy to deal with, and while Boston may have some things to say for it, no one has ever accused it of being easy.

  10. I put myself through college as a cab drive in Boston and have strong gut feelings that any out of state or international visitors to a Boston Games would use the MBTA subway, trains and buses. Boston had the first subway system in the country and it stretches out 15 miles into the burbs. Trains will get people in from the west, south and north. As a big tourist destination and college city, Boston has a very thriving taxi industry, and Uber et al. now add even more options for getting around the city. People don’t normally rent cars when they go to NYC because the transit options are aplenty. Same with Boston.
    Europeans flying into Logan can be at a hotel in Back Bay via subway alone in 15 minutes, and Europeans are very at home with using public transit like subways, trains, buses.

    A hotel in the Back Bay is within walking distance of Fenway, B.U. (fencing, gymnastics, track), TD Garden, the Esplanade, Charles River and the proposed stadium would only be 10-15 blocks from Comm. Ave. in the Back Bay.

    As far as driving in Boston goes…anyone visiting in a vehicle needs to understand the concept of “offense is the best defense” and drive accordingly. For the average Joe, I don’t recommend driving in Boston. The city was laid out in 1630 and many of the roads are now paved over cowpaths; winding, narrow, one way, etc. The only section of the city that is a grid network is the Back Bay…..nothing else makes sense. DO NOT drive Boston in a Motorhome. There are numerous low bridges on Memorial Drive and Storrow drive and frequently RV’ers and truckers driving by GPS (instead of local knowledge) end up wedging their vehicle under a bridge-at great cost. An RV stuck on Storrow Drive at 5 pm on a Friday during a Boston Olympics would be the stuff of legend. People wouldn’t get home until the bars closed.

  11. “Then we have the horse events, which will require extensive modifications of any existing horse center, as they will have to accommodate not only their usual users, but also have sufficient stalls and facilities for the horses coming in.”

    fwiw, equestrian events may be the least of a host city’s worries. LA put temporary stands in the Santa Anita infield for jumping and dressage. Suffolk Downs could probably be used the same way. The cross country events are typically held out in the boonies.

  12. An RV stuck on Storrow Drive at 5 pm on a Friday during a Boston Olympics would be the stuff of legend. People wouldn’t get home until the bars closed.

    Actually Bill Ford, RV’s would be banned in Boston during the Olympic period. With that said, the transit system would be used for the 2024 Olympic games. With that said, the city has a much bigger history than Atlanta and it is very likely that the only reason why the games would not come to Boston would be because the USOC somehow had to pull the bid. Sponsors want another games in the States and they will get another games.

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