The Chair of Boston 2024 Steve Pagliuca sees the release of Olympic “Bid 2.0″ as a catalyst to improve public support and promote greater understanding of the bid across the city and state of Massachusetts.
With public support polling in the low 40’s, and plans to move it into the mid-60’s according the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) chairman and International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Larry Probst, the bid committee has been conducting damage-control in the form of an aggressive public relations campaign.
In a conference call with international press Thursday, Pagliuca expressed his belief that the new plan is the right tool to move the bid forward in the right direction.
“There was probably a vacuum when the storm hit,” he said in reference to the time while new plans were being prepared and opposition group “No Boston 2024” was campaigning against the bid.
“It’s always easier to be against something that is a major undertaking and has a lot of complexity.
“You can simplify things into sound bites, so it’s a lot easier to get some sound bites out there than to get the entire detail of a kind of fact base, and we’re out there doing that right now.”
The USOC and Boston 2024 are expected to regroup mid-July to review the public support situation though USOC Chief Scott Blackmun on Tuesday denied that there has been any talk about canceling a Boston bid.
Pagliuca has distinguished the Boston bid from past hosts that have seen capital budgets balloon during the organization of the Games, such as London in 2012 and Sochi in 2014, by pointing to the availability of the IOC’s Agenda 2020 reforms passed last year.
“In the past Olympics where they have had cost issues a lot has to do with building a permanent, very large stadium,” he said when asked about cost over runs by GamesBids.com.
“I think they were 80,000 seat stadiums in the past before Agenda 2020, and they were permanent, and those are often tricky and large projects and stadiums like that in these days in the United States many of them cost over $1 billion themselves.
The risk of the costs going up, we think, are small – Boston 2024 Bid Chair Steve Pagliuca
“So we’ve mitigated that by having a prefabricated temporary but beautiful stadium that can be put up on a concrete pad.”
“We’ve really shown this plan, it’s a very detailed plan, it has very detailed cost estimates that are at the high end.”
“We think they are first class sites and we can build first class sites for that amount of money and we don’t plan to change that.”
Yet the Boston 2024 Chair who is also managing partner of Bain Capital and co-owner of the Boston Celtics agrees that there may be several iterations of the plans following the release of this initial concept.
“We’ve been very clear that in all Olympic Games, it’s not even a marathon it’s a journey, it’s a 10 year journey that will have changes.”
“For some of the venues we are negotiating right now we’ve put in the highest cost amount that would be conceivable and so we think the changes will only be positive.
“We’ve made it very clear that as we go through this iterative process of what’s great for the Olympic movement and the athletes – we can’t forget about the athletes here – so we’ve made changes based on input from the federations and the athletes themselves that we have on our board.
“As we go forward the big issue here is will that increase scope or cost increases, and because we put the maximum amounts in for each of the venues that is going to belay those concerns and we’ve made it clear that some of the venues can change.”
Pagliuca added that with the various insurances and contingencies put in place “the risk of the costs going up, we think, are small.”
The USOC has until September 15 to nominate Boston to bid for the 2024 Olympic Games. They will face Paris, Hamburg, Rome and possibly Budapest and Baku with a decision being made by the IOC in 2017.