Boston wary of expensive costs in potential bid for 2024 Olympics

Nov. 25, 2013 at 5:03 PM
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BOSTON, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- A potential bid for the 2024 Olympic Games by Boston has raised nightmarish visions of busted budgets and debt-ridden venues, local officials say.

Such an ambitious venture is being negatively compared to the troubled "Big Dig" tunnel project, the Boston Herald reported Monday.

Bidding to host the Summer Games is "something to be very careful about," said Andrew Zimbalist, a Smith College economics professor who advises on major sporting events.

"Boston might generate $2 billion in revenue," he said. "They're going to spend upwards of $15 billion in hosting the games. It's very hard to imagine this thing paying off."

Boosters of the bid contend the Games would promote investment in transportation and housing projects and benefit the city long after the Games had ended. Critics are skeptical.

"I think you would see the same thing you saw on the Big Dig, a feeding frenzy of people looking to enrich themselves from the process," said Republican state Sen. Robert Hedlund. The highway and tunnel project was budgeted to cost $2 billion. Final cost was $22 billion.

Experiences of past host cities provide examples of what could happen if Boston was awarded the Games.

Beijing spent about $480 million on an 80,000-seat Olympic stadium that now sits empty. The aquatics center for London's Games cost $360 million, more than three times its initial estimate.

The application itself would cost Boston $10 million, said Democratic state Rep. Cory Atkins. However, Chicago's failed bid for the 2016 Games cost $100 million.

Russia, which will host the 2014 Games, is expected to spend $50 billion on Olympic-related projects.

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