The debate surrounding Boston’s bid to host the 2024 Olympics continued yesterday at a luncheon hosted by Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Boston at the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel in the Seaport. Guest speakers included David Manfredi, Principal of Elkus Manfredi Architects and Boston 2024 Master Planning Committee Co-chair, Tom Alperin, President of National Development and Boston 2024 Master Planning Committee Co-chair, and Erin Murphy Rafferty, Executive Vice President for Boston 2024. Highlighted by each speaker was the emerging theme and goal of the 2024 Olympics to create an enduring legacy, to “plan the games in alignment with the future of our city” according to David Manfredi.
The goals of the Olympic Committee extend well beyond 2024 and aim to shape “how we want our city to look in 2030 and the decades that follow” as noted by Erin Murphy Rafferty. Details of the plans include capitalizing on the unique aspects that the city of Boston has to offer and developing venues that can be repurposed after the Games to improve youth sports practice and learning facilities, transportation, existing infrastructure and student housing. Specifically, the improvements to Franklin Park would later serve as a training facility for student-athletes, while the proposed location of the Olympic Village on UMass Boston’s campus could later be repurposed as student housing. The latter vision is especially appealing to UMass as the college is looking to transition itself into a more residential campus.
As the every Olympiad does for its host city, the 2024 Games would set Boston on an international stage, potentially bolstering tourism and increasing land values. Tom Alperin noted Barcelona as an example of this phenomenon, highlighting how the city rose to be the third most visited city in the world following the 1992 Olympics hosted there. One particular tourist-friendly feature of Boston that would be highlighted on a world stage during the 2024 Games is the city’s walkability. Boston boasts over 47 miles of publically accessible waterfront and an expansive network of green space. Based on proposed venue sites, 28 out of the total 33 would be within a 5.5km, making Boston’s Olympic proposal for 2024 the most ‘walkable’ in comparison to all previous Olympic host sites, the closest contender being Tokyo with 26. As David Manfredi noted, we would be connecting clusters of Olympic venues like never before.
What would certainly be a welcome lasting legacy of the games would be the improvements to public transportation. With the recent weather-related transportation issues taking the city by storm, Tom Alperin urged the audience to view the situation as an opportunity to improve and “take advantage of a good crisis.” The Boston 2024 bid has already awakened conversations surrounding transportation improvements, including mechanically updating existing subway lines and forming pieces of the oft-discussed urban transit ring with Bus Rapid Transit lines, improvements that would provide relief and serve to benefit Boston residents for decades to come.
The panelists concluded by emphasizing their desire for community input, noting that they are set to hold 20 meetings over the next 20 weeks in order to open the dialogue surrounding the 2024 Olympic bid. Beyond the feasibility study conducted by The Special Commission to the Feasibility of Hosting the Olympics in the Commonwealth, the Boston 2024 committee hopes to convey to the Boston community the lasting legacy outcomes hosting the games would provide the city in forms of growth, transportation and other immediate improvements, a along with increasing tourism and investment on an international scale.