March 18, 2015 / 1:38 PM / 2 years ago

Boston 2024 Olympics could see $5 billion economic boost: study

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People cast shadows on a video display before a news conference explaining Boston's bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics in Boston, Massachusetts January 21, 2015.Brian Snyder

BOSTON (Reuters) - A 2024 Olympic Games in Boston could be an economic boost for the city and eastern Massachusetts, bringing $5 billion in new spending to the region over about seven years, a University of Massachusetts analysis of the bid revealed on Wednesday.

The Summer Games would see about $2.1 billion in new construction spending in the state over the six years before the event, $2.9 billion in money related to its operations and $300 million in tourism revenue during the Games, according to the university's Donahue Institute research center.

The estimates, a portion of the overall $9.5 billion budget organizers have projected, are a forecast of revenue that Massachusetts-based firms would generate as a result of the Games. Researchers tried to factor out money that would have been spent anyway, such as existing transportation projects, and also to account for business lost because of the Olympics, including from tourists who stay away to avoid the crowds.

Boston was chosen by the U.S. Olympic Committee last January but the bid has met with skepticism among some residents, with an organized opposition sprouting up to argue that Massachusetts taxpayers would shoulder much of the costs.

Among its finding, the report noted that, on average since 1960, Summer Games have run dramatically over budget, exceeding initial estimates by three-and-a-half times. But Boston intentionally took a frugal approach in its bid, in a nod to the International Olympic Committee's "Agenda 2020," aimed at holding down costs.

"In some international places, hosting the Olympics has almost become a way to demonstrate the power of a country and they have focused on building an incredible amount of new infrastructure," said Dan Hodge, an author of the study. "Boston's proposal is more restrained."

The bid calls for using existing infrastructure at university campuses around the city, with a temporary stadium for events such as opening and closing ceremonies, to be dismantled afterwards.

Mayor Marty Walsh has said the Games could be paid for without taxpayer funds.

Chris Dempsey, co-chair of the No Boston Olympics lobbying group, said the study did not alleviate his concerns that taxpayers might be stuck with the bill.

"We love the ideal of the Olympics, but the hard reality is that Massachusetts taxpayers will be on the hook for overruns," Dempsey said.

Boston will go up against a field that could include world capitals such as Rome, Paris, Berlin and Doha.

Reporting by Scott Malone; editing by Gunna Dickson

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