As part of the debate leading up to the failed United States Olympic bid of Boston 2024, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker asked for an evaluation of financial details related to expenditures. He charged The Brattle Group, a leading firm in economic consulting out of Cambridge, MA, with analyzing the numbers and providing mathematical evaluation of the bid.
Gov. Baker pledged to remain neutral until the firm completed its analysis, and when hired, people expected its findings to be one of the most hotly-anticipated parts of the Olympic Games bid. The group released its findings on Tuesday, although it came well after the fact that Boston 2024 already lost its bid when the USOC pulled out of the Bay State following Boston Mayor Marty Walsh's refusal to blindly sign the commitment contract.
The findings are long and incredibly in-depth, and if you have the time and interest in seeing the inner workings of the bid that wasn't to be, I suggest reading the entire document. Just give yourself some time since it's nearly 200 pages. You can find it by clicking here.
As part of its analysis, Brattle looked at the cost of venues infrastructure surrounding the Games, providing a table right around Page 141 or so. The Games themselves would have cost over $900 million in stadium construction and improvements, including a $175.5 million temporary Olympic Stadium in the Widett Circle area of Boston.
As part of the costs, Boston 2024 would sink money into nearly every facility, including $7.5 million to the Tsongas Center at UMass-Lowell for fencing and taekwondo and $1.1 million into Agganis Arena at Boston University for rhythmic gymnastics.
Boston College had two facilities on the list, with Alumni Stadium receiving $13.5 million to host field hockey (officially recognized as "hockey" in the report) and Conte Forum receiving $6.3 million for judo and wrestling.
The report focuses primarily on the expenditures associated with four major facilities: the Olympic Stadium, Velodrome, Aquatics Center, and International Press Center. But it later discusses the costs associated with "other venues," which BC would presumably fall under.
24 facilities expected to be used by Boston 2024 (including Alumni Stadium and Conte Forum) were pre-existing structures, meaning the costs associated would bring them up to the International Olympic Committee standards. While the costs listed were predicted, there is no way to tell if the existing structures would need further cost overruns, potentially raising the amount of money needed to renovate them.
Later, the report goes into a short discussion on the so-called "Bid 2.0," where it specifically targets the university-based venues. It specifically states that the universities and their students "would not have been able to use the facilities during, and for a period before, the Olympic Games."
There are a couple of arguments here. Boston 2024 would have given Conte Forum and Alumni Stadium some much-needed renovations in order to become Olympic-level facilities, but it would have come at the cost of displacing the Eagles athletics teams.
The London 2012 Olympiad took place during late July, while Rio 2016 is taking place over the entire month of August. If the Boston games were to take place in that time frame, there almost assuredly would have been some impact to the teams using the two centerpiece structures of the Boston College athletic experience, and while it doesn't actually say it, I believe there's a very good chance the athletics programs would've been displaced.
As an example, the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics forced the Vancouver Canucks to play 14 consecutive games on the road due to preparations of GM Place. The preparations of the arena, which needed to be converted to an Olympic stadium at "Canada Hockey Place," left the Canucks without a home arena for six weeks. Even with a 14-day Olympic break worked in, Vancouver did not play a home game between January 30th and March 13th of that year.
That said, there is an interesting focus that's brought on by the Olympic bid. The facilities infrastructure at Boston College exists, which is to say that BC has big structures in which they play sports. There is a growing need to update the edifices, and this is maybe as good of an opportunity as ever. We don't know exactly the nature of the improvements other than "it brings the stadium up to IOC standards"—whatever that means. But it serves as a chance to, once again, note that BC needs improvements.
This goes back to the facilities argument we've had many times before, another opportunity to open up an honest discussion on what can sometimes be a heated, emotional topic.
The football team needs a practice facility. The baseball team needs indoor batting cages and a stadium. Conte Forum needs to be updated. The coaches are doing fantastic jobs on the recruiting trail, evidenced by improvements on the field. If they can somehow get what they need in terms of facilities, BC can easily go to the next level.
Where does that money come from? I don't know. Maybe it comes from us through donations to the Flynn Fund (and, Lord willing, one major donor with really, really deep pockets like a Terry Pegula) or a sponsor of some sort. Your guess is as good as mine.
But I know the failure of Boston 2024, regardless of your opinion of the Olympic movement, is presenting a golden opportunity for us to look introspectively at how we can improve Boston College. What happens next will be as intriguing as it is critical.