Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mount Olympics on Beacon Hill? No thanks.

Not that it means all that much, but we learned a couple of weeks back that Boston – yes, that Boston – is on the US Olympic Committee’s shortlist for hosting the Summer Olympics in 2024. Washington DC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco also made the cut.

Next up, we few, we happy few, we band of brothers get to spend a lot of money trying to prove our worthiness in hopes that the USOC will pick our town as the one to make the bid to the overall Olympic Committee, where, unless that august and venerable group decides it’s time to placate the United States and/or makes a show of being august, venerable, and non-bribe-taking, we’ll get turned down.

Of the other cities that expressed an interest in carrying the U.S. banner, Philadelphia and New York prudently dropped out, while Dallas and San Diego didn’t make the cut.

Personally, other than the fact that it’s 190 degrees in the summer, I think Dallas is a great place to host the Olympics.

Sure, they may not have much by way of public transpo, but there’s plenty of place to park out there on the prairie, and they already have all sorts of venues. There’s the Dallas Cowboys’ new billion dollar Close Encounters stadium, and the quite nice Rangers’ baseball field just next door. Not to mention that pretty much every high school worth its mascot and cheerleaders has a football stadium that would do most small- to mid-sized colleges proud. Think Friday Night Lights. It’s no exaggeration. These places are out there.

Hosting the Olympics always looks like a “free and easy” way to improve infrastructure, but the costs are, of course, astronomical. London hosted the last summer game -  and gave us what had to be the zaniest opening ceremony event in Olympic history – at a cost of around $15 billion. The Athens Olympics in 2004 cost a similar bundle, and some claim that all the spending contributed to Greece’s epic collapse and ongoing fail. And it’s estimated that this year’s Winter O’s in Sochi rang it up to the tune of $50 billion plus. (I think the oligarch/Putin premium was at last 100% there.)

I actually don’t know who foots the bill if your city is fortunate enough to get the five-ring circus nod: feds, state, local, corporate sponsors. But I’m pretty  sure that I don’t want to see my property taxes go up to build a bunch of soccer stadiums that won’t get used after the fact.

Boston is a wonderful city for tourists, but it’s not a great city for an extra million vuvuzela-blaring tourists – do Olympic-watchers blare vuvuzelas, or is that just a World Cup thing? – tromping around our narrow sidewalks and streets designed by cows as cow paths. And I’d hate to see the look on the faces of those vuvuzela blarers when they realize that all those brochures depicting Boston harbor cruises and swanboats in the Boston Garden were bait and switch, and that they were they’re staying in a Motel 6 on Route One and getting bussed to Gillette Stadium – oh, the horror – where they get to kill time between watching the hurdles and 100 meter by shopping at the Bass Pro Shop at Patriot Place. (Oh, the horror.)

If the Olympics come to Boston in summer 2024, include me out.

If I’m still up and about, I’ll up and about myself elsewhere. Maybe that will be the summer I spend the month in Paris or Galway or somewhere else that Jim and I always talked about. (Gee, I really hope I get to it before then…)

If, by that point, I find myself in the preliminary stages of full-blown geezerhood, I’ll set in my supplies and hunker down for the duration, perhaps spending a few minutes daily on the front steps, shaking my cane at the vuvuzela-blaring tourists surging by my home looking for Cheers which will, no doubt, still be rerunning in Tajikistan and Paraguay.

With respect to the Boston Olympian madness, a couple of different groups have come to the fore.

One is composed of the business and civic leaders (unsurprisingly led by major construction). That would be Boston 2024.

Another is a bunch of “civilians” who think this is a terrible, horrible, no good idea. That would be No Boston Olympics group (with a surprisingly slick web site, by the way).

I think that the No Boston Olympics folks will win the day. There are plenty of things that Boston is good at hosting.

We’re good at the Marathon. At World Series. At NBA Finals. At Stanley Cup.

I don’t think we have enough seats for the basketball NCAA Final Four, but we’d do just fine with the March Madness on ice that is the Frozen Four.

We did a good enough job with the Democratic National Convention in 2004, and if the Republicans want to take their chances here at some point, come on down. (I promise not to stand on the front steps shaking my cane at you.)

We host all sorts of mid-sized conventions and trade shows, and make a reasonably good go of it.

If the Patriots-owning Krafts succeed in their full court press – or whatever the football equivalent is – to get the Super Bowl hosted in Foxborough, well, have at it. I won’t even say “I told you so” if it turns out that we have a foot of snow and wind-chill factor of 10-below that day.

But, maybe because I’m just not capable of thinking BIG, and because I really wouldn’t want to be bothered by the vuvuzela-blaring masses, I’ll be just as happy if we end up losing out to Los Angeles. Or San Francisco. Or Washington, DC. (Actually, DC might be a good location for it: replace partisan gridlock with gridlock gridlock.)

On the other hand, there’s a group touting Boston as the site for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

When you spread it out over Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, this would make sense.

We’re a hockey town, not a track and field town. People around here ski. They skate. They don’t swim, run, or dive.

Winter Olympics makes sense. Just as Mike Eruzione, of Miracle on Ice fame.Boston garden

The picture on the Boston Winter Olympics home page shows the Public Garden, which is just across the street from where I live. I don’t imagine they’ll be having any of the skating events on that rough ice, or even on the better-groomed ice of the Frog Pond, which is just next door.

still, having the Winter Olympics here might be fun.

Winter ‘R Us, after all.

And I don’t think that there’d be all that many vuvuzela-blaring tourists in town for it.

Besides, I’ll be even older in 2026 than I will be in 2024.

And who goes out in the middle of February, anyway?

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