Walsh: Boston Won't Be Left in Debt From Olympics

Walsh said he will hold the first nine community meetings throughout the city

Boston officials say they won't run up debt in their quest to bring the 2024 Summer Games to the city.

The USOC choose the sports-mad academic and high-tech hub to be the American nominee to host the games, selecting the city over San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington. Boston will be competing against Rome and possible entries from Germany, France and Hungary when the International Olympic Committee makes its decision in 2017.

President Barack Obama, who went to Harvard Law School, congratulated the city and promised his support for bringing the Summer Olympics back to the United States for the first time since the 1996 Games were in Atlanta. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who attended the bid presentations last month, said it was "an exceptional honor" to be chosen.

"This selection is in recognition of our city's talent, diversity and global leadership," the first-term mayor said. "Our goal is to host an Olympic and Paralympic Games that are innovative, walkable and hospitable to all. Boston hopes to welcome the world's greatest athletes to one of the world's great cities."

Walsh, other Boston officials and the USOC spoke in Boston Friday morning at 8:30 regarding the decision.

In presenting its bid to the USOC, Boston promised a move away from the expensive and ultimately abandoned venues that plagued games in cities from Beijing to Sochi. The Olympics would take advantage of the 100 colleges and universities in the area to host events and house athletes and media.

The bid also put its faith in an upgrade of the area's aged public transportation system to do the work of the buses and Olympic-only lanes used by past host cities. It proposed a marshaling of the regions hundreds of thousands of college students to work as translators and volunteers.

Boston lacks a venue for a main Olympic stadium, and initial plans are to build a temporary venue just south of the city. But the Games could also take advantage of Fenway Park, the historic home of the Boston Red Sox; the TD Garden, the home of the Bruins and Celtics; a harbor that is ideal for sailing and a marathon tradition - if not the course itself - that is the most prestigious in the world.

Walsh said he will hold the first nine community meetings throughout the city. The first meeting will be on Jan. 27 and the ninth will be in September. He said details of the meetings were to be posted online, as transparency was a key goal in the process.

He added that that he promised he would not leave Boston with a large price tag with unpaid debt.

"We are passionate about sports because we believe in the power of sport to transform our city and inspire the world's youth," bid chairman John Fish said. "A Boston Games can be one of the most innovative, sustainable and exciting in history and will inspire the next generation of leaders here and around the world."

Gov. Charlie Baker, who was sworn in earlier Thursday, said he would work to keep costs down and deliver on the promise of a privately funded Olympics. The group No Boston Olympics has complained that the bid process was done in secret, with only loose details released so far, while doubting that Games could be staged without public funding.

Baker said, "There will be significant opportunities for all of us to engage in a very robust and through debate about what we can bring to this opportunity."

"The history of the Olympics is that it always costs taxpayers," said Chris Dempsey, the group's co-chair. "It's especially concerning when they haven't released the bid. How are we supposed to take them at their word when we can't see the details?"

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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