3Qs: Could Boston host the Olympics?

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Boston is in the run­ning to add “Olympic host city” to its long list of acco­lades. The United States Olympic Com­mittee has announced Boston is one of the four U.S. cities, along with Los Angeles, San Fran­cisco, and Wash­ington, D.C., on the short list of pos­sible host cities for the country’s 2024 Summer Olympic bid. Rosanna Garcia, asso­ciate pro­fessor of mar­keting in the D’Amore-McKim School of Busi­ness, has attended the past eight Summer Olympics. Here, she dis­cusses what it takes to host the inter­na­tional event and what it could mean for the city.

Boston is on the short list of cities for a potential U.S. bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. Here, Rosanna Garcia, associate professor of marketing in the D'Amore-McKim School of Business, who has attended the past eight Summer Games, discusses what it takes to host the international event and what it could mean for the city. Photo via Thinkstock.

What have previous Olympics host cities had in common that ultimately led to the selection committee picking them, and do you think Boston is a viable candidate?

The International Olympic Committee is looking for cities that have the infrastructure or the ability to build the infrastructure to support the Olympics. Many of the cities already had international airports that could support the increased number of visitors, as well as vibrant business communities that could help to financially back the building of necessary structures. Each city has also had a rich history and favorable viewpoints from an international perspective.

I’ve attended the past eight Summer Olympics so I’ve experienced a number of successful events and a few failures. Based on this, I feel Boston would make a great destination for the Olympics. It is easily accessible by many countries given it’s just a ‘hop across the pond’ from many countries. Boston has always been a proud city with a unique history, which makes it a great destination for traveling.

Would Boston have to reach out to other cities in New England in order to handle the influx of people and address infrastructure needs?

Finding the acreage to build the needed stadiums will be a major problem for Boston. With more than 300 events that typically occur at the Olympics, many cities around Massachusetts, and even Rhode Island and Connecticut, will need to partner with the International Olympic Committee to host these events. Many preliminary competition events would need to take place outside of the main Olympic Park areas so events may occur as far away as Connecticut. This also is an opportunity for more people to get involved with the Olympic Spirit.

More than 500,000 visitors traveled to London for the 2012 Olympics. All these people needed housing for about three weeks. Many of the surrounding towns throughout Massachusetts will look to host visitors in local hotels.

What are the positives and negatives an Olympic host city typically experiences?

The biggest positive is the chance to showcase the city’s strength. It can bring a city from a developing country image to a “we have arrived” international image. The Summer Olympics are often seen as urban renewal projects for building supporting infrastructure such as roads, new arenas, and low-middle class housing. Boston doesn’t have this need to rebrand its image, but I’ve traveled to some places where people don’t know where Boston is located, so it’s still not considered an international powerhouse like New York or London. This would change by hosting the Olympics.

The biggest negative for a city is the financial commitment. A city can spend $40 million just to put in a bid, and then it needs to finance the cost of building. Although there is often federal and state funding to help offset these costs, many cities, such as Athens, have become burdened with debt that is significantly impacting the city’s future. Hosting the Olympics, of course, brings jobs to an area, but these jobs are only temporary.

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