^ great vision, bold plan : but the Brattle Report strongly suggests there wasn’t enough time between now and 2024 to get it done
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NOTE : I have updated this story in light of Boston 2024’s response to the Brattle Report. See below for updating.
We now can read the much-awaited Brattle Group’s report on the risks involved in Boston 2024’s Olympic Games bid. At 10.30 AM this morning the e-mail arrived from the Governor’s press office. There it, was : the Executive Summary, which I have now read, and the full report, which I’ll read eventually. There’s enough in the Executive Summary to tell us much about the “2.0” Bid.
To read it, click on the link : http://www.mass.gov/governor/docs/news/final-summary-brattle-report-8-17-2015.pdf
The Brattle Report evaluates four separate areas of revenue and cost : ( 1 ) revenue ( 2 ) construction costs ( 3 ) security costs and ( 4 ) infrastructure costs. As we might have expected, the greatest area of risk was construction costs. It is disturbing to read that, according to Brattle, the 2.0 Bid underestimated construction costs for everything, as much as 90 percent too low in the case of the Media Center. It is equally disturbing to read Brattle’s finding that the major construction — at Widett Circle and the Olympic Village — had no developer committed to doing it, and to read that the costs of construction, in relation to likely financial return (i.e., developer profit) might very well not compute. To read this section of the report is to conclude that the Bid Committee had nothing more solid in its hands than high hopes.
That part is unsettling enough. Just as unhappy it is to read the report’s assessment of Bid 2.0’s Infrastructure Plans. The Plans themselves get high marks, but not the available time. The report makes clear that it would have been next to impossible to complete all of the planning, financing, approving, and building of the various transportation segments in anything like the eight years available.
Those of us who supported the games Bid felt that the transportation infrastructure requirements, which would also benefit the entire City’s transportation improvement, would not get done in our lifetime but for the time pressure put on them by the Games Bid. The Brattle Report concludes that our strategy was infeasible. For those of us who supported the Games Bid, that is OK; our thought was a shrewd one. For the Bid Committee itself, however, it was regrettable to learn that they allowed supporters to advocate a tactic the Committee knew would not fly.
UPDATE 08/19/2015 10.30 AM
I leave that sentiment as is; however, last night the Boston Bid Committee sharply criticized the Brattle Report, and their rebuttal has legs. Specifically, the Bid Committee notes that the Brattle report erred completely in estimating the Media Center. As the Bid Committee noted,. it wasn’t building a Media Center from scratch but instead retrofitting already existing buildings. thus the Bid Committee;s estimated $ 50 million allocation was NOT 90 percent too low, as charged by the Brattle Report.
The Bid Committee also correctly notes that the Brattle Report never mentioned the financials from the last three American games., This omission I noted when first I read the report. The only recent games mentioned by the Brattle Report were the 2012 London games. What happened to Atlanta ? To Salt lake City ?
I’m left with the impression that, as to costs, the Brattle Group wanted to describe a kind of worst-case outcome.
So let us instead surmise that the Bid Committee would have found developers ready to commit to the Widett and Olympic village developments at available cost prices for available profit. Those are numbers, and numbers can adjust. Not so time. Time is what it is. The Brattle Report’s one undeniable critique asserts quite convincingly that the Bid not have enough time available to complete its preliminaries; and that, therefore, the games could not have happened at all, except, if possible, by an heroic undertaking by everybody in City and State with a damn the costs, damn the approvals, to hell with the procedures attitude.
It would have taken the City and State an all hands on deck, crisis level of commitment to thus beat the clock. Could we have don it ? Yes, but not given the division, the confusion, the overlap and disagreements that abounded during the Bid months.
Scant wonder that the Mayor refused to commit the City’s finances to a money guarantee of a Bid so likely to not get to the starting line on time.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere