Boston 2024 Olympic Bid Discussion with the Boston Globe Reporters on SCI TV

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In an episode of SCI TV, Boston Globe reporters Joan Vennochi and Joanna Weiss discuss the aspirations and potential problems of a Boston 2024 Olympic bid.

Sports Conflict Institute (SCI)

The idea is how do you use the Olympics to better the city in the long run...without having taxpayers holding the bag in the end

Hosting the Olympics can transcend sport and unite a city, but first come the hurdles of infrastructure, security, and billion dollar budgets. Theses challenges turn an Olympic bid into a marathon, and the City of Boston is currently wrestling with these public issues. Boston Globe reporters Joan Vennochi and Joanna Weiss recently joined SCI TV to discuss the aspirations and potential problems of a Boston 2024 Olympic bid.

Vennochi and Weiss have been covering Boston’s Olympic stirrings from the organizing committee’s initial talks with the U.S. Olympic Committee to the current debates and public opinion approaching the November 2016 ballot referendum.

“The idea is how do you use the Olympics to better the city in the long run,” Weiss said. “The question from opponents is how do you do that without having taxpayers holding the bag in the end?”

Polling data from National Public Radio affiliate WBUR and MassInc showed 51% of Boston voters supported the Olympic bid in January, but only 36% were in favor by March. That number steadied to 40% approval in April.

Boston is known as a very politically engaged city with a historical tradition of questioning every issue, especially those that involve big public expenditures.

“There is a lot of scepticism about the cost,” Vennochi said. “(Boston2024) was totally unprepared for the idea that people weren’t going to embrace this and pick up the torch and run down to Boston Common. Do we need an Olympics to say we’re world class? Some people say no.”

Vennochi and Weiss see a weak case for hosting the Olympics, lack of grassroots effort, and skepticism around the organizing committee’s finances. A changing political landscape with a new governor hasn’t helped the initial bid either.

Weiss thinks the skepticism around Boston2024’s money can be summed up as “well connected people feeding each other but maybe not benefiting the public.”

Vennochi describes the public process and debate as “doing it backwards,” the committee taking plans to communities without soliciting and listening to new ideas.

Both Globe reporters think that to shift the tide Boston2024 will need to show solid financial numbers, better listening to community concerns, and more operational transparency.

Those changes will need to bring poll numbers above 50% by the referendum in November 2016 when voters will decide whether they want their city in consideration for the Olympics or not.

“They haven’t shown that what Boston needs is the same thing as what the Olympics want,” Vennochi said. “They really have to win hearts and minds and they have a ways to go on that.”

Watch the full conversation at:

About SCI
SCI supports competitive goals in athletics through understanding, preventing, and resolving destructive conflict both inside and outside the lines. SCI serves as a knowledge center and provides a range of services to help ensure student-athlete experience is part of a healthy university culture while optimizing performance on and off the field of play. Conflict is inevitable, but how we respond determines whether success follows or costs mount. SCI Founder Joshua Gordon has over 20 years of conflict management experience.

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