WHY IS THE BOSTON OLYMPICS BID EVEN CONTROVERSIAL ?

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^ The Bid Committee’s proposed volleyball site : Squantum Point Park, a currently under-ussed plot of State owned land.

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Last night I got angry at the public Boston 2024 meeting held in Quincy’s Marina Bay. When an old guy like me gets angry, people notice, and some did. And that’s OK. I get angry sometimes. Few occasions have aroused more anger in me than the opposition to our City hosting the 2024 Olympics. What the blazes is this opposition all about ?

As I see it, having our City host the 2024 summer games is an enormous honor, a great blessing for our city that puts us on the tourist A list and confirms our status as America’s most sports-minded metropolis. Hosting the Games means big, big infusions of money and jobs, development of undeveloped land, transportation improvements, all sorts of new thinking, new suggestions, new concepts. It sounds tacky to call it a flower blossoming, but the symbol isn’t overblown.

Yes, it’s also a three week party. Is that bad ? Cities all over the world hold huge public festivals, week long parties and even longer. I’ve been to quite a few, in three or four of those cities, and I enjoyed everything, even the traffic and the overcrowded hotels, the late night noise, the restaurants so full it was hard to get served. Enjoyed it all.

Given all of the above, I was surprised, enormously, to find opposition arising, months ago, to the Games bid. I’m even more surprised now, to find said opposition hardening into obstruction and reputation-smearing. The opposition is small, but it is loud and has caused distant observers to wonder, what the dickens is going ON in our city ? It’s a question I too ask. Sometimes I ask it angrily. Last night I blew out an FY at one remark being made, quite over the line, by an opponent who, during questions, chose to read a statement calling the personal bona fides of the Games Bid Committee into question.

(Disclosure : I have friends who work for the Bid Committee and I value their friendship. I know them to be honorable and hard working civic activists. If this compromises my “objectivity,” so be it.)

The Bid Committee has had to revise their Plan and fill out its extremely complex details of transportation, traffic, land use, housing, land acquisition, construction, security, staffing, and environmental permitting — all of that — ad hoc while being sniped at every minute on every detail by people who want the Bid to fail and are using their sniping and obstruction to push it to failure.

I still have no idea why they are talking this stance, or why they are pushing it beyond the envelope of opposition into determined obstruction and accusation. Who would not want our city to take in billions of dollars in tourist money, to not have billions of investor dollars spent upon infrastructure, housing, and construction; would not want to see the thousands of jobs the games will require ? would not want to see our rather aging, overly neighborhood-narrow city break out of its social confines ? would not want to enjoy the party ?

The reasons adduced make no sense. Displacement ? Just the opposite it. Minions of corporate profit ? Corporations earn profit by doing things, things that require employment. And so on.

Last night in Quincy, the hearing on using Squantum’s Point Park for volleyball competition quickly lost focus. Part of that was faulty presentation. The Committee talked for half an hour about the games in Boston before even mentioning the Quincy proposal. The Committee also sounded defensive. It talked about “legacy investments” rather than the Games themselves. Not one word of joy or excitement did I hear, not a sentence about sports. Why not ?

Given the defensiveness of the Committee;’s presentation, and the focus on “legacy,” with only a brief address about Point Park, it was probably inevitable that the “public comment” was entirely bogarded by the “Opposition”: for its usual purposes : obstruction, petty critique, demeaning the Committee’s bona fides.

Still, there were a few statements by supporters, and a handful of appropriate questions — one in particular, by a local newsman, about traffic problems between North Quincy T stop and Point Park. Those questions, however, seemed overtalked by the opposition’s well-rehearsed focus on obstruction, petty critique, and smear. Those of us who wanted actually to learn the Committee’s Plan for renovating Point Park, and for bringing spectators to the proposed stadium on site,came away quite frustrated to sit through negativity for its own sake when what was wanted was to explore best ways of making it work.

If the Committee is to going to hold more public meetings, and I guess that it is, it should establish these rules : 1. no one who has delivered an opposition speech during public comment time at one meeting should be allowed to deliver it again at other meetings — one time per customerĀ  2. questions should be questions, not speeches of opposition (or support). 3. one question means one question, not two or three. 4. The Committee should never sound defensive or focus on mind-numbing administrative detail rather than the wide vista of sport and excitement.

Perhaps these rules of engagement might lead to public meetings worth attending.

—- 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.

2 thoughts on “WHY IS THE BOSTON OLYMPICS BID EVEN CONTROVERSIAL ?”

  1. I totally agree.
    As an architect when I go out into a community to make a presentation for a new building there is always a group of folks who are totally content with the status quo and oppose. No matter how bad an existing condition is they are afraid of change.

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