BOSTON (Reuters) - Boston Mayor Martin Walsh on Friday vowed that if the city hosts the 2024 Summer Olympics it would avoid the huge public spending overruns that have tainted other Olympics in recent years.
“I promise this will be the most open, transparent and inclusive process in Olympic history. I also promise that I will never leave Boston with a large price tag of an unpaid debt,” he told a press conference.
Boston was selected on Thursday to be the American candidate to host the 2024 Olympics, the first step in a grueling marathon to bring the Summer Games back to the United States for the first time since 1996.
Boston, which has never hosted an Olympics, was announced as the surprise pick over two-time host Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington following a board meeting of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in Colorado.
The city, which hosts the world renowned Boston Marathon each year, has estimated that hosting the Olympic games would cost some $9.5 billion, including $4.5 billion in private funding and $5 billion in regional infrastructure improvements, much of which is already needed.
“We are not going to be using tax payers’ money to be building venues,” Walsh said.
Russia set a record when it spent a staggering $51 billion to stage last year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, with the future of many of the venues in doubt. Many other Olympic hosts have seen cost overruns greater than 100 percent.
The group that had been advocating for Boston, Boston 2024, has suggested the large stadiums around the city, including the homes of the New England Patriots football team and Boston Red Sox baseball team, could be used for the games.
Boston 2024 director John Fish told reporters that the city’s large presence of universities will also be key to keeping down costs, providing sites for games and possible housing for athletes and tourists.
The group’s conceptual plans will be released shortly and will be followed by a series of public meetings. A final plan will be issued to the International Olympic Committee by September, when it will compete against a field that could includes Rome, Paris, Berlin, Doha, Istanbul and others.
The USOC’s decision was greeted mainly with enthusiasm by Boston residents and leaders, though a spokesman for the group No Boston Olympics, which formed to oppose the idea, said it worried that pursuing an Olympic bid would divert attention from more important issues.
Reporting by Richard Valdmanis, Scott Malone, and Ross Kerber; Editing by Ken Wills