A day after a revamped pitch was made for the Boston 2024 Olympics, WBZ-TV’s Jon Keller spoke with Jon Wallach and Dan Roche (filling in on the Toucher & Rich Show) about the potential for the Olympics coming to Boston.
“I am not against the Boston Olympics. I am highly skeptical of that and any other grandiose, massive urban redevelopment scheme, as someone who commuted through the Big Dig for 14 years of my life. I do confess to that,” Keller said. “The good news about the new revised bid is it shows that Boston 2024 has been paying attention to at least some of its critics.”
Keller noted that some venues have been changed, and “it shows that they’ve been paying attention at these community meetings.”
While the event planning seems to have improved, Keller remains skeptical about the dollars and cents of the proposal.
“Boston 2024 is in hot water with the USOC and the International Olympic Committee, precisely because a lot of what they put forward in their initial bid that got them designated as the potential U.S. bidder turned out to be bogus. They said that there was widespread public support for this — oops, that turned out to be false. They said that this was going to be a walkable, compact games. Well, it no longer is. … Good luck trying to walk to New Bedford for the sailing. I hope you bring plenty of bottled water.”
“In fairness to Steve Pagliuca, who’s a man of integrity, and John Fish, the original driving force behind this, these are not crooks. I mean, some of the social media portrayal of these people has been over the top. And Pagliuca came right up to the edge of candor yesterday in their roll-out of the new plan when he said that ultimately voters are going to have to decide how much risk they want to shoulder.”
Keller noted that “people would love to have the Olympics here if there were no major financial risk to the taxpayer, and there’s no way they’re ever going to be able to make that claim.”
Roche, Keller’s colleague at WBZ-TV, asked Keller what he would need in order to lend support to the idea of Boston 2024.
“An iron-clad guarantee that the taxpayers and the city and the state won’t get saddled with horrendous, crushing debt,” Keller responded. “Look, we’re still digging out from the debt and the wasteful spending that accompanied the Big Dig. Remember, they said that was going to cost about $2 billion. With interest payments on the debt, the projection is it’s going to wind up costing about $27 billion. We can’t afford that again, or anything like that. So if you take that off the table, if the International Olympic Committee were to do what they did in L.A. for the 1984 games and say, ‘OK, you’re not on the hook for cost overruns. We’ll pay for it,’ then bring on the Games. Absolutely.”
Listen to the full discussion below: