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Boston Drops Out Of The Running For 2024 Olympic Games


Boston is waking to a dead Olympic dream. The U.S. Olympic Committee and Boston organizers yesterday ended their city's bid for the 2024 summer games. The public didn't support it, and that clears the way for other cities to try to step in. It may also show cities a way to get out of a big expense. Here's Curt Nickisch, of member station WBUR, in Boston.

CURT NICKISCH, BYLINE: At IBEW Local 103 on Dorchester Avenue, a street that was supposed to have become the Olympic Boulevard, electrician Chris Fisher says he heard the news from his union rep.

CHRIS FISHER: Told us we pulled out, you know, rest in peace, Boston.

NICKISCH: Just up the street from here, an Olympic stadium would've meant thousands of construction jobs. And an athlete village nearby would've added 4,000 housing units to a city with fast-rising rents.

FISHER: That would've been, like, a great deal for us - you know, more work, you know, more union-related, like, jobs. It kind of shattered us all, you know, that we can't do that anymore, you know? Like, I wish the Olympics would've came through.

NICKISCH: But around the corner, Jerome Howard said he's glad. He does not trust Boston officials to pull off a mega sporting event on budget.

JEROME HOWARD: If they learn how to manage things around here then maybe we can go for something. But until then, everything they seem to do throws us further and further into the hole.

NICKISCH: Politicians tried to put a good face on what other cities would consider a serious snub. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said the new neighborhoods planned for the Olympics could be salvaged.

CHARLIE BAKER: I still think we got a lot of really terrific product that we'll be able to use coming out of the process.

NICKISCH: But Boston won't be able to use Olympics money from ticket sales and TV rights to pay for those developments. Local boosters had argued that the games would catalyze improvements to the city and public transit that would otherwise never happen. But those well-funded supporters were defeated by an all-volunteer opposition group on a shoestring budget.

CHRIS DEMPSEY: It's certainly a good feeling. But what's next is we're going to the Beantown Pub.

NICKISCH: That's Chris Dempsey with the group No Boston Olympics. His organization pointed to the $50 billion price tag of the Sochi Winter Games and painted the International Olympic Committee as elitist.

DEMPSEY: The IOC really makes it difficult for cities. It's hard for us to see why cities should be taking on all of the risk for Olympic Games.

NICKISCH: Last year, the IOC unveiled reforms to make host city bids more sustainable and affordable to encourage more cities to step forward. Andrew Zimbalist, sports economist at Smith College, says this false start with Boston is not great for the IOC.

ANDREW ZIMBALIST: That's a black eye. It's going to hurt them a little bit, but it doesn't mean that they can't rise up again.

NICKISCH: Boston rejected the chance to show itself off to the world, but other cities may come to a different decision. Los Angeles is interested in taking Boston's place, and Toronto is now thinking about jumping in, too. For NPR News, I'm Curt Nickisch in Boston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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