Boston using area college facilities as part of pitch to host 2024 Olympics
BOSTON -- Field hockey at Harvard Stadium. Fencing and archery at MIT. Horses for the equestrian events cared for at the Tufts Hospital for Large Animals.
Welcome to the University Games.
Boston is bidding on the 2024 Summer Olympics, and the crux of its proposal is a walkable, sustainable, technology-based event that would harness the resources of the Boston area's 100 colleges and universities to keep the Games affordable and compact.
Organizers say as many as 70 percent of the venues would be temporary, and others would be built with the cooperation of schools that would pay for and take over the building when the Games leave town. They would also find a use for iconic locations like Fenway Park, the Boston Common and Harvard Stadium, which hosted soccer preliminaries for the Los Angeles Games in 1984.
"It was spectacular to see the Olympic flags flying over the Stadium," said Dan O'Connell, the president of Boston 2024. "I can't wait to see it again."
The city is also trying to pitch that it can host an Olympics without going broke, partly by using construction already in progress.
Boston already has the requisite 45,000 hotel rooms. Upgrades to public transportation are already planned. An athletes' village would fit into UMass-Boston's plan to add 5,000 housing units and convert from a commuter college to a residential one. International students in the area could work as translators, and a "global alumni network" could be tapped to pay for projects and campaign for the games to come to their erstwhile hometown.
And, instead of a cluster of venues enclosed in a centrally located -- and expensive -- Olympic Park, they would be scattered around the city.
USING THE ALUMS
IOC member and five-time Olympic bobsledder Prince Albert of Monaco went to Amherst, and will make the city's case internationally. Schools also would tap other alums for donations to finance buildings with the added appeal that they would be used for the Games.
The plan is for 90 percent of the venues to be within about 3.5 miles of the city, which O'Connell said would make it the most compact Olympics since the first modern games in Athens in 1896. Organizers would rely on the public transportation system known as the "T'' to move fans and officials around. There would be no private parking spaces, except for the disabled.
However, O'Connell compares Boston's subway system to the London Underground, which served the 2012 Games well. Few locals speak so glowingly of the widely used but much-maligned "T."
As Rita Jeptoo cruised down Beacon Street on her way to a Boston Marathon victory this spring, she passed a Green Line trolley and TV announcer Al Trautwig exclaimed: "She's running faster than the 'T'!"
Venues would be either temporary or turned over to individual schools for their own use.
Beach volleyball would be set up in a temporary stadium on the Boston Common, where British troops mustered during the Revolutionary War.
The Boston Marathon course has been deemed too hilly for the Olympic race, but the finish line could be used as part of a loop course. The Charles River won't work for rowing — too many bridges — but the Merrimack in Lowell has a public transportation running right to the site and a dam that controls the river's flow.
HOW IT'S FUNDED
O'Connell insists that the Games could be run with the estimated $4.2 billion the local organizing committee would get from broadcast revenues, ticket sales and international sponsorships. Another $3.2 billion would come from additional sponsorships, including the city's thriving biotech community.