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With Olympics bid dead, who’s ahead? And who took a hit?

Jul 31, 2015Boston Globe, Council in the News

By Michael Levenson and Mark Arsenault

Some of the winners and losers after the crash of the city’s Olympic bid are clear. Governor Charlie Baker has been widely praised for refusing to endorse or oppose the effort until he had a better handle on the financial risks. Chris Dempsey, the co-chair of No Boston Olympics, has also enjoyed a blast of positive attention for opposing the bid with a level head and a respectful tone. John Fish, the construction magnate who launched Boston 2024, has seen his reputation as the one of the city’s most powerful and influential executives badly bruised. Here’s a look at some others who have come out ahead, and some who have taken a hit.


Steve Pagliuca

The iceberg was already in the rear-view mirror and the bow underwater when Pagliuca agreed to take the helm of Boston 2024 in May. Under his direction, the organization produced a new venue plan in about seven weeks, which let the organization go out with something tangible to show for all that donor money it spent.


Evan Falchuk

He may claim to be a winner after the United States Olympic Committee dumped Boston’s bid, but the former gubernatorial candidate has suddenly lost the one issue that was going to keep him in the public eye for the next year and a half. With the demise of his campaign to block state aid for the Games on the November 2016 ballot, he has gone from central figure in the hottest issue in town back to the brink of political obscurity.


Frederick Law Olmsted

The 19th-century apostle of American parkland made a late appearance in the Olympic drama, when bid leaders offered $12 million to extend the Emerald Necklace that he designed down Columbia Road in Dorchester. Now, Olmsted’s plan to turn the humble urban artery into a tree-lined boulevard on par with the Back Bay Fens or the Public Garden could go back to gathering dust, as it has since 1897.


The Brattle Group

The little-known Cambridge consulting firm landed a $250,000 state contract to scrutinize the finances of the Olympic bid. But the company probably earned more than that in free advertising, thanks to Baker’s insistence on name-dropping the firm and its report every time he was asked about the Olympics. Wait for the Brattle Group’s report, Baker told us ad nauseam, deferring any opinion of his own to the company and its “numbers geeks — which I consider to be a compliment.”


Office of Olympic Planning

We never really heard from Sara Myerson, the first director of Boston’s Office of Olympic Planning, who had barely settled in at City Hall when the bid collapsed. But all is not lost for the 31-year-old former Goldman Sachs analyst. City officials say she may get a new role to be determined at the Boston Redevelopment Authority.


The Velodrome

Before the Olympic fiasco, practically the only Bostonians who knew what a velodrome was had tear-drop-shaped helmets and thighs the size of oak trunks. Now, everyone knows about the hugely expensive oval-shaped indoor bicycle track, thanks to its turn as the most frequently mocked venue in the Boston 2024 bid.


Richard A. Davey

Gone is his $300,000 a year paycheck as chief executive of Boston 2024, and with it any dreams he may have harbored of carrying the torch into the Olympic stadium to the cheers of thousands. Boston 2024 may not be a résumé booster, but at least he still has the T.


Widett Circle

Who had ever heard of the homely patch of industrial land off the interstate before Boston 2024 rechristened it “Midtown”? The proposed home for a temporary Olympic stadium is still in line for a Seaport-style redevelopment, without the athletic track.


New Bedford, Billerica, Lowell, Worcester

Not known for their connections to international pomp, these second cities of Massachusetts were the most eager to host world-class sporting events. But the Olympic spotlight has moved on and back they go under Boston’s shadow.



‘The US Olympic Committee was already on a losing streak before Boston 2024. Anybody remember New York 2012? Chicago 2016? And then the committee let Mayor Martin J. Walsh paint himself as the hero of the taxpayer after he reneged on a commitment to sign the host city agreement. Now it’s on to Los Angeles. At least LA already has a velodrome.


Twitter trolls

It was a great run for Games opponents who inhabit the intertubes. They buried supporters in a snarkapalooza of anti-Olympic Tweets, driving the online discussion in a struggle sometimes too important for civility. They even got under the skin of Walsh, who snarled that “10 people on Twitter” were ruining everyone’s fun. But now with the dragon slain? Back to piercing observations about “Game of Thrones.”


Dan Doctoroff

The former New York City deputy mayor lost a bid for the Games in 2012 and then joined the US Olympic Committee just in time for Boston 2024’s implosion. He promised “Boston is our city” in a TV debate five days before the USOC pulled the plug and started eyeing LA.


Corey Dinopoulos

It’s so unfair to include on this list the former Mass Art student credited with the idea that became Boston 2024. He was just a young man with a dream — a dream that grew into an acrimonious debate that consumed the city for the better part of a year, before crashing in flames and scattering political wreckage from Billerica to New Bedford. Hey, not your fault. Dream on, Corey. But don’t call FIFA.

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