Boston Olympics would benefit RI; Newport venues not likely

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File

NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — The 2024 Summer Olympic games are still more than nine years away and for the next two years – the city and people of Boston will be kept waiting until the International Olympic Committee announces the winner of the host city.

In the meantime, Eyewitness News spoke with local experts about whether Rhode Island could see a piece of the action if Boston’s bid for the games becomes a reality.

In January, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced that Boston, a first-time contender, was selected as America’s bidder to host the 2024 Olympic games, beating out other US cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C.

Boston 2024 – the group backing Boston’s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic games, is in the midst of a series of community meetings across Massachusetts, giving Bay Staters the chance to share their ideas and concerns about bringing the games to the state.

Boston 2024 says its plan is to make a Boston games the most walkable Olympics in modern times, with venues clustered together.

With more than 40 sporting events, Eyewitness News wanted to know if the Boston bid would benefit from using cities like Newport, known for world-class sailing and the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Dr. Mark Davidson, a professor at Clark University in Worcester who studies the lasting impact of Olympics on host cities, says Rhode Island likely would not get roped in to help host venues.

“My sense is that it would be very unlikely,” said Davidson. “I think the mode of the games that the bid is proposing is of a compact city. My sense is they’ll want as many venues and events as close to the hub as possible.”

Spreading out venues isn’t uncommon though. During the most recent Olympic games in Sochi, Russia involved event in cities a few hours away from each other.

Photos: A look at Boston's 2024 Olympic bid >> (Image: Boston 2024)
Photos: A look at Boston’s 2024 Olympic bid » (Image: Boston 2024)

Eyewitness News dug through Boston 2024’s plan and found it calls for 28 of 33 Olympic venues to be within a six-mile radius with two major clusters. The clusters would include a waterfront cluster stretching from South Boston to Dorchester – the home of the Olympic village. The other cluster would be the university cluster including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University.

We’ve learned the latest version of Boston’s bid calls for sailing in Boston Harbor and tennis at Harvard University, though no other details have been released.

Bill Fischer staffed the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He tells us even after a host city has been picked, venues can change.

“We’re in a position to take a little bit of pressure off of Boston and to say let’s bring that one venue out of here, let’s bring some of the traffic flow out of the area and take some heat off you folks and hopefully be in a position to support that,” said Fischer.

That support to Boston could also come in the way of manpower. According to Boston 2024, the 2012 London games provided 70,000 jobs to local residents. Fischer says the games will need everyone from graphic designers to hotel and security workers.

“Even if we don’t get a venue here, the benefits of employment, the benefits of our hotels and our tourism industry, the benefits of increased flights to our airport –those are all wins for Rhode Island,” said Fischer.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has thrown her support behind Boston’s bid. In a statement released last month, Raimondo said:

“This could be a tremendous opportunity for us to showcase our spectacular state, and region to the world. I look forward to learning more and collaborating with others in this effort.”

Boston will find out if it made the cut in the summer of 2017 when the International Olympic Committee announces the winner of the host city. Other cities in the running for the 2024 games include Rome, Paris and Berlin.

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