Massachusetts to hire consultant for 2024 Olympics bid

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

BOSTON (AP) — Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and Democratic leaders of the state Legislature announced Monday they would jointly hire an outside consultant to advise them on the bid to bring the 2024 Olympics to Boston, saying they wanted to assure that hosting the games wouldn't unfairly burden taxpayers.

Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg said the consultant would conduct an independent analysis of the plan being developed by Boston 2024, the private nonprofit group organizing the Olympic effort. Of specific interest would be any financial risks facing state or city government should the cost of staging the games exceed current projections.

Also Monday, Boston 2024 took out full-page ads in Boston's two daily newspapers to promise that it would not submit a final bid to the International Olympic Committee unless a majority of Massachusetts residents were supportive of the effort.

The state had begun the process of requesting proposals from potential consultants, the governor and legislative leaders said.

"Hosting the summer games is an opportunity to showcase (Massachusetts) on the world's stage, but it also requires careful consideration and serious analysis given the magnitude of the events," Baker said. "An outside analysis will help us determine the potential impact of the games and ensure Boston 2024's plan will not unfairly burden taxpayers."

Boston 2024's chief executive, Richard Davey, said in a recent interview he would welcome the hiring of an outside expert by the state and said his organization, if asked, would even consider paying for the consultant. Baker said he expected the consultant to be paid for with state funds.

Rosenberg said he wanted to make sure state taxpayers would be "protected against raids on the public treasury to subsidize the Olympics."

Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh, a strong backer of the Olympic bid, said he supported the decision to hire a consultant.

The ads in Monday's editions of The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald included a list of 10 principles the organizers planned to adhere to as they pursued the games.

Among them were using the Olympics as a catalyst to improve public transportation, creating tens of thousands of jobs, spurring development of affordable housing and developing a multi-layered insurance plan that would shield city and state government from financial risks.

Boston 2024 has said it will fund the games through a variety of sources including corporate sponsorships, TV rights, ticket sales and federal security funds.

One recent poll conducted for WBUR-FM of more than 500 Boston-area residents showed 36 percent supported the Olympic bid while 52 percent were opposed and the rest were undecided.

Evan Falchuk, who ran for governor last year under the banner of the United Independent Party, has proposed a November 2016 state ballot question on barring the use of state taxpayer money for the Olympics.

The IOC is expected to award the games in 2017. Rome and Hamburg, Germany, are among other prospective bidders.