BRINGING THE OLYMPICS TO BOSTON : THE 2.0 PLAN

Pagliuca 1

Boston Bid Committee’s Steve Pagliuca outlined the new 2.0 version of its Olympic Games plan

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Yesterday the Boston Olympics Organizing Committee released its revised Games plan, dubbed “2.0.” Under the leadership now of Steve Pagliuca, owner of the Boston Celtics basketball team, the Committee has dramatically improved upon its first draft plan. Much detail has been added. The new version addresses a host of complex planning matters, from transportation and housing to games venues and financials, and from insurance protections to aftermaths. It’s an impressive improvement.

You should read Version 2.0’s 56 pages for yourself. Here’s the link : https://www.2024boston.org/docs

The usual suspects of course criticized “2.0” as incomplete, or as bogarding the state’s priorities in favor of its own, or of pie in the sky projections of revenue, and what have you. These criticisms can be discarded at once, because for these crit9ics, any plan that the Games Committee comes up with will not be good enough. The objective of these usuals is to not have the Olympics come to Boston, no matter what. That is unacceptable, an insult to the City.

That piece of housekeeping done, what critiques deserve to be made ? First, let me say that I support bringing the Games to Boston — enthusiastically. We deserve it. We look forward to the changes the Games will initiate in our City, in its footprint and its thinking about itself. For too long Boston has entertained a mindset of no-change, of keeping things the way they are; attachment to old buildings, old smells, old streets, old ways of looking at where and how we live. That must change, because they will change whether we want them to or not, and it is far better that we command and direct the change than have the change directed upon us. These changes are already here, in work, education, social customs, economics, esthetics.

Almost every neighborhood in Boston is changing — rapidly. And almost every institution — grudgingly. The 2.0 version of  the Olympic Games plan for 2024 focuses almost all of these changes and gives them shape and dimension. The plan embraces today’s Boston dynamism. It enhances it.

Critics say the Olympics Plan is all about profit and white people. They are wrong on two counts. First, profit is a good thing. Profit is the life blood of business, and business is the arena of most jobs. Businesses serve customer demand at a profit. The more of that Boston can have, the better for all. Second, the Games are the last arena in which to play the race card. No part of American life is more multi-cultural than sport. The Olympics Plan engages every community of color directly. Several games venues locate in neighborhoods with a majority of-color population; jobs at the Games will be filled at least half by people of color, simply because that’s who lives in Boston and loves sport. And if the faces of the Games Committee and staff right now look mostly “white,” how can it be otherwise at the outset ? That is most of who has the money and the connections.

The Games will certainly change that because, again, how can it be otherwise ? Boston people today are everyone, from everywhere. The networking going on all over the City assures that Boston will become much more culturally integrated even without the Games.

Plan 2.0 now awaits the Governor’s judgment. Public support for bringing the Games to Boston polls quite divided; Baker’s opinion will make a difference. Will he encourage the Bid or discourage it ? I cannot tell. but Baker has made it clear that he respects “detail orientation.” 2.0 is quite detailed, but it is. as yet, incomplete — many Games venues have not yet been identified, and the insurance provisions have yet to engage an insurance broker. In addition, the Plan’s transportation infrastructure requirements have yet to pass muster with the State’s  Department of Transportation managers. At present the “DOT” is still scaling back commitments too aggressively made during Governor Patrick’s second term. It is far from clear how the 2.0 Plan’s T station upgrades and service improvements will be funded, or when, or if the Plan’s transportation priorities do not displace larger priorities involving the entire MBTA ridership.

Baker will require answers to these questions. He will want solid market research to back up the Plan’s anticipated revenue number : $ 4.6 billion. He may question the plan’s security arrangements (though these seem to have, in security expert Juliette Kayyem, exactly the right overseer) and he may have something to say about placement of Games venues yet homeless.

My feeling is that none of these concerns will prove too difficult for a planning staff capable of forging, in few months and under huge public pressure for which the Committee had been quite unprepared, a plan as complex as 2.0. The Plan makes provision for further refinement. At worst, in my opinion, Baker will hold off his imprimatur until those further refinements are made.

Eventually, however, and probably sooner rather than not, Baker will give the nod, and thereby unleash the huge and enthusiastic support already being accorded the Games by the thousands of volunteers already hard at work and recruiting thousands more. Boston is a sports city — the Governor too is a sports guy — and ultimately Boston’s love of sports will be the decider of this drama.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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