Editorial: Why not an Olympics bid for Boston, New England?
Between Medicaid expansion and renewed efforts to repeal the death penalty, legalize a casino and amend the state Constitution regarding education funding, New Hampshire lawmakers will have no shortage of weighty matters to consider over the coming weeks and months.
To these hard questions, let us add one that’s a little more fun to wrestle with: Should New Hampshire get behind a nascent effort to bring the Olympics and Paralympics to Boston in 2024? Our view: It’s worth some serious consideration.
Officials in Massachusetts are earnestly discussing whether to submit a bid for what would be the first summer games held in the United States since the Atlanta games in 1996. Boston isn’t the only American city with an interest, and American cities aren’t the only ones in play. But the city – and, more broadly, the region – could no doubt make a convincing case for itself.
Boston and New England are clearly sports-crazed, and there are already some big-time players in the region’s sports world, including Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Celtics owner Steve Pagliuca, supporting the effort. The city and the region are already home to numerous sports venues that could do double-duty for the Olympics. Perhaps more important, the project has the support of Mitt Romney who, whatever you think of his politics, has already shown the Olympics pooh-bahs that he knows how to pull off a massive undertaking of this nature. His Salt Lake City games in 2002 were widely considered a big success, and he has signed on as an adviser to the Boston effort.
The enormous up-front costs, the headache of the inevitable related construction and the significant concerns about security are real, but consider, too, the potential for short- and long-term benefits for the region, including New Hampshire.
For starters, it’s possible that organizers would look north for help hosting an Olympic event or two. The southern part of the state, particularly, isn’t too terrible a schlep from Boston, and it would put New Hampshire, momentarily, at the center of the universe for something other than presidential politics.
Additionally, to make the Olympics function smoothly, there will no doubt be call for a more modern transportation infrastructure. This could be true even beyond Boston. In fact, advocates for passenger train service between Concord and Boston might just have a new and urgent argument: Making it easier for tourists to get back and forth from New Hampshire to Boston during the games would ease congestion in the city and allow New Hampshire’s hotels and restaurants to help cater to the crowds.
Even without a Concord train, there would no doubt be visitors looking for cheaper digs than those right in and around Boston. And regardless of where they were staying, some visitors would likely be looking for a little entertainment or sightseeing (with or without a casino!) in between Olympic events. New Hampshire’s hospitality industry and the Manchester airport would have much to gain.
New Hampshire doesn’t necessarily need to sign on as a co-sponsor and assume the financial risk it would involve. But the state would no doubt benefit from the Olympics should they land in Boston. Helping make that possible might just be in everyone’s interest.