Note: This article also appears at The Rec Room.
There’s been a lot of chatter around here lately about the possibility of bringing the Olympics to the Boston area. I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to organize my thoughts on this matter and failing pretty miserably. It’s not that I don’t have a strong opinion on the topic; rather, the problem is expounding upon a rather simple thought in an informative and entertaining manner. My opinion in this case is really pretty simple.
For one thing, we simply don’t have anywhere to put all the people involved. Visitors would be spread across hotels far and wide, likely taking over lodging in places as distant as Providence, Worcester, and Hartford. I mean, do we really want to stash important dignitaries and high powered executives at a Holiday Inn in Lynn or Weymouth? Well, I kind of do, but I’m an asshole and the thought of shoving fancy pants people into dumpy places puts a smile on my face. Needless to say, that would not reflect well on New England.
We also don’t have the necessary transportation infrastructure. Our highways couldn’t possibly deal with that traffic; getting anywhere would be akin to heading for the Cape at 6 pm on a Friday in the summer. The public transportation would simply implode in a huge cloud of dust accompanied by the panicked cries of frightened tourists, a Chernobyl powered by people who can’t figure out where Park Street is. And for the love of Mayor Menino, we sure as shit don’t need more tourists clogging our lumpy, irregularly shaped sidewalks.
Those who think the previous paragraphs are invalid because new infrastructure could be built have obviously never experienced the joys of construction in Boston. Let me tell you something, pal: there’s nothing quite like being trapped in single lane traffic on Storrow Drive because some asshole thought it was a good idea to put off fixing a few bridges, and MBTA shuttles that have to do great big loops around Boston Common and Beacon Hill to get to Cambridge are really special treats – doubly so when they’re filled with smelly, confused tourists who haven’t yet figured out that they need to hold onto something if they don’t want to fall over when the driver guns it to get around a corner. Sure, our infrastructure definitely needs an overhaul, but repairing and expanding everything in the small window of time prior to one of these events would be akin to having David Ortiz hit every commuter squarely in the crotch with his baseball bat every morning. Beyond that, the additional capacity added simply to host an Olympics would never be fully utilized again unless we brought in another Olympics; it’s shit we don’t need, and the future costs of maintaining it all wouldn’t be worth it.
And those costs? Whoa. A report released today by No Boston Olympics (who just so happen to have a totally awesome WordPress template) posits that it would cost between $10 and $20 billion dollars for Boston to host the games. Hell, Chicago’s failed hosting bid is estimated to have cost $80 to $100 million. That’s enough scratch to rebuild the Good Times Emporium, put an industrial strength air freshener in every MBTA subway car, and bribe NESN into putting Jenny Dell back on the field as sideline reporter despite her relationship with third basemen Will Middlebrooks – you know, shit that would actually make a difference to the people who live here.
Therein lies the real rub: the benefits simply aren’t there for your average citizen of the greater Boston metroplex, which makes the annoyances and inconveniences impossible to swallow. The only thing one of these huge events would do for Sully from Dorchester is make his drinking problem worse because his previously ten minute commute now takes an hour and a half. It’s not like we locals can actually afford to attend any of these things. The inevitable story about a Russian speed skater causing a kerfuffle by stealing someone’s parking spot in Southie or an Australian swimmer getting stabbed in the Glass Slipper would be good for a few chuckles, but that’s about it.
Boston just isn’t built for events the size and scope of the Olympics. I’d argue that’s part of the region’s charm. Do that shit somewhere else. But if you want to put Wrestlemania in Fenway Park…do it. Immediately. Sully from Dorchester and I would love that!