Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Boston Olympics

I am proud of my city today. 

I am a huge sports fan. I want the Boston teams to have fantastic facilities.  But I still would never want public funding for them. These are total boondoggles. The team and their private backers get guaranteed revenue streams and the public (the taxpayer) is on the hook for the inevitable cost overruns.

Same thing for the Olympics.  Economist Andrew Zimbalist has done extensive research on this and found that the final cost is 2.5 to 3 times the budget. Local cities get creamed.  Even Barcelona, which claims to be happy with the results, cost 4 times the original budget. Their happiness was mostly because they went from a backwater to a great tourist destination.  Boston is this already.

The Boston 2024 committee, made up of some serious movers and shakers in the Boston business community won the original competition and got Boston names the USOC choice for the 2024 bid.  They put together proposals and budgets and even promised to buy insurance to cover cost overruns so the taxpayers wouldn’t have to.  Gotta respect that.  But there is no guarantee that the insurance would cover all of the overruns. Certainly not billions. 

This leads to why I am proud today.  The USOC gave the Boston mayor and the Mass governor ultimatums that they had to sign on to covering overruns. The Boston taxpayer was not up for this. And the mayor and governor put their feet down and said no.  No more Boston 2024.

Don’t get me wrong – I would love to have the Olympics here. I would buy tickets and wave the flag. But not at taxpayer expense.  So unlike most of the cities that bid for the Olympics, we followed through on that and just said “No”.  I left Miami in the middle of the boondoggle otherwise known as the new Miami Marlins stadium. What a freakin’ mess. Not for the team – for the Miami taxpayer.  That still leaves a lump in my throat.

PS - Donald Trump criticized us for it.  So we must have done something right.