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Hey, let’s tear down most of downtown Boston for the Olympics

The Globe has a story (sub. req.) about a new commission study that says, yes, Boston, could theoretically handle the Summer Olympics in 2024 in terms of security and hotel rooms etc.

But – well, er, cough, cough – it would take a “monumental task” to actually do it, the commission says.

Monumental is a good word to use. The print story comes with a city map showing how much space a new Olympics stadium and a new Olympics “village” for athletes would need.

The Olympics village alone would be the rough size of the North End (with a little bit of North Station and the Greenway thrown in for good measure), while the stadium would be the rough size of, say, all of Beacon Hill and the flats (with a little bit of MGH and the Public Garden thrown in).

And that doesn’t include new bicycle and media centers. And the transit system would need major upgrades, too.

And, oh, the commission doesn’t have cost estimates.

Of course, the report suggests that maybe Bostonians are too small-minded to envision all the glorious benefits of an Olympics:

The commission acknowledged that it is an open question whether Bostonians, who it noted have a well-earned reputation for being slow to embrace sweeping new endeavors, even want to host the Games. “The biggest concern is related to the actual cost associated with hosting — from where funding comes from to how it would be allocated,” the report said.

Well, duh.

Here’s the thing: The state is still paying off the $15 billion Big Dig tab – a project that started out at one-third of the final price tag. And guess who’s largely paying for the Big Dig today? The minority of commuters who use the MassPike each day, not the entire region and certainly not all the I-93 drivers who derive most of the benefits from the Big Dig.

It’s as if Olympic supporters are thinking, “Hmmm. We haven’t had a multibillion-dollar construction boondoggle for a few years now. What can we do? … The Olympics! … Now who can we stick the bill to?”

Who would pay for the Olympics? Our best guess is that lawmakers would once again start with smokers. They’re so easy to pick on and tax. And tolls would go up on the Pike, too. That’s a given.

Then lawmakers would find other small groups of taxpayers to hit up, similar to how lawmakers tried to stick it to the tech community last year with a new “tech tax” that caused a near revolt before lawmakers rescinded it.

You get the idea.

Don’t get us wrong: We like the idea of hosting an Olympics in Boston. It’d be cool. But we have no faith that: A.) It would come in on or even near budget and B.) that lawmakers would actually spread costs around fairly.

That’s our main problem with this “ridiculous idea” (a great column by Eric Wilbur, btw).

File under: Show me the money

Read other posts about: Boston history, Boston life

One Response to “Hey, let’s tear down most of downtown Boston for the Olympics” »»

  1. JS
    Comment by JS | 02/28/14 at 5:27 am

    I agree, and I resent the commission describing us a slow to embrace change. I think it’s only sensible to worry about how to pay for it all before taking such a huge endeavor. Although, at the very least, I doubt we’d have wild dogs roaming the hotels and everyone would be able to flush their toilets….

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