As we've been warning for some time now, the Boston 2024 Olympics is going to cost taxpayers if it becomes a reality. According to a Boston Globe report from today:
While the public debate over the Olympics has so far fixated on the city’s snowbound transit system and where sports venues should or should not go, local organizers have been quietly working on a less flashy but potentially more important aspect of the city’s bid: the guarantee.
In 2017, as the international competition goes forward, Mayor Martin J. Walsh will be expected to endorse Boston’s blueprint for hosting the 2024 Summer Games and with his signature make a promise that should the plan for a privately funded Olympics falter, the city — and its taxpayers — will step in and fix it.
This guarantee, which is generally required of finalists for the Games, has created difficult politics in other US bid cities, and it has become the rallying cry for opponents of Olympic bids.
The proposed Boston Olympics would already cost taxpayers billions for infrastructure changes and security expenses. If the games go over budget, they could cost taxpayers billions more.
That's extremely likely to happen, despite all the assurances from Boston 2024, the group behind the city's bid, that they will find ways to mitigate the city's risk. Between 1976 and 2012, the average cost overrun for Olympic games has been more than 200 percent.
If Boston 2024 and Mayor Walsh want to truly assure the public that taxpayers won't be forced to foot the bill for cost overruns, then there's an easy way for them to do so: Boston 2024 should promise to cover cost overruns themselves and Walsh should refuse to sign any guarantee on behalf of taxpayers.
Even if Walsh does plan to sign off on a guarantee, he may still have to deal with a state-level ballot question proposed by United Independent Party chairman Evan Falchuk, which could stop taxpayer money from being spent on the games.
And given the recent trouble with the MBTA, I can think of at least one thing a lot of taxpayers would rather see their money go toward than a private sporting event.