Boston 2024 Rivals See Valuable Legacy From Doomed Olympic Bid

Passionate rivals from both sides of the Boston 2024 Olympic bid that never was, were named Bostonians Of The Year Thursday by the Boston Globe Magazine.

John Fish, the bid’s original Chairperson, and Chris Dempsey, co-founder of opposition group No Boston Olympics topped the list in 2015 because according to the Globe “whether you were for or against the Olympics, the pair got the whole region talking about what the city’s future should look like and how we could get there.”

The Globe got it right.

Ironically, the bid that was quashed by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and Boston citizens even before it could be submitted to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for evaluation could become the poster-child of the value of bidding for the Olympic Games even if you don’t win – and the justification of the expenses.

Fish said he hopes the time and money invested in the bid will pay off in Boston’s future plans.

“When history is written, I think there will be a powerful bid legacy,” he said in the magazine.

Legacy depiction of Boston 2024 Midtown site after dismantling of Olympic Stadium (Boston 2024 image)

Legacy depiction of Boston 2024 Midtown site after dismantling of Olympic Stadium (Boston 2024 image)

Dempsey, in an odd twist, agreed with his former opponent.

“We should be proud about the process that we had and the way that so many different types of people from all across the city and all across the state had a chance to weigh in”

“We need to do better at creating and nourishing that process of giving people an opportunity to think big about what the city can be.”

The IOC has suffered severe backlash from potential host cities due to the high price tags of recent Games including about USD $51 billion spent to organize the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games where most venues were built from scratch.  As a result, several previously interested cities have either declined to bid for the Games – or just dropped out.

Seven European cities cancelled plans to bid for the 2022 Winter Games while Boston, and last month Hamburg, walked away from 2024 bids.

Dempsey led the opposition charge that toppled Boston’s entry and he helped advise the opposition in Hamburg.

But common among all abandoned bids is that they took the time to evaluate the opportunity, to investigate what kind of investment would benefit the city and most importantly – what needs to be done to move the city forward whether it be a need for transportation infrastructure, housing or sports facilities for the next generation of youth.

Arguably, bids that see their campaigns right through to the final IOC election will develop clearer plans and recognize more opportunities for their cities moving forward, but sometimes even just a vision of what could be will become the catalyst to better urban development.

About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.