BOSTON (State House News Service) – As a private group carves out its plan for the 2024 summer Olympic Games, the leaders of the Massachusetts House and Senate are of like mind that venues should be spread throughout the state, an approach that could detract from the “walkability” aspect touted by bid backers.
“Why can’t we have events in other parts of the Commonwealth? We’ve got rivers. We’ve got mountains. We’ve got all kinds of things all over Massachusetts. Let’s spread it out to the best extent possible,” Senate President Stanley Rosenberg said during an appearance Thursday on Boston Herald Radio.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo on Wednesday said, “I’d like to see the rest of the state share in some of the activities.”
An Amherst Democrat, Rosenberg said he and DeLeo and Gov. Charlie Baker have discussed ways to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not on the hook for Olympic costs.
“We’re clear that we do not believe the taxpayers want to pay for any operating deficit for it,” Rosenberg said. “We’re prepared to do the public infrastructure projects we were already going to do and perhaps accelerate them so they’re in place by the time – that’s for the benefit of our economy, not just benefitting the Olympics.”
Boston 2024, the non-profit that has been backing Boston’s bid, said the $4.7 billion Olympics would be funded by ticket sales, sponsorships and broadcast revenues, and it envisions an event mostly packed into two clusters in Boston and Cambridge.
While the group said the games themselves would be privately funded, it said state dollars could go toward infrastructure upgrades and federal taxpayers could foot the security bill. The City of Boston and the nonprofit are seeking input ahead of a bid submission to the International Olympic Committee before the Sept. 15, 2015 deadline.
Rosenberg, who is at the beginning of his first term as president, said the business model touted by Olympics officials would need to be “proven” before the IOC makes its decision for a 2024 host city in 2017.
“Trust but verify, or show me, because we need to make sure that we’re not going to be handed a bill at the end of the day. Because once the decision is made in 2017, the whole world’s eyes are going to be on Massachusetts, and if at that point some folks come to us and say, ‘Oops. We need $100 million. We need $200 million. We need $300 million,’ that is not the situation we want to be in,” Rosenberg told co-hosts Jaclyn Cashman and Hillary Chabot.
Rosenberg said “the original bid concept” was to spread the games across Massachusetts and neighboring states and he wants the bid to return to that approach.
“It now sounds like more of it would be in Boston for some reason,” said Rosenberg.