BOSTON (AP) — Opponents are cheering the unceremonious demise of Boston’s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, but some are wistfully wondering what might have been.
The U.S. Olympic Committee officially severed ties with Boston on Monday, saying it was exploring other options amid lackluster public support and concerns from elected leaders and organized opposition about the impact to taxpayers.
For some supporters, the announcement dashed hopes for billions of dollars in new investments that would have dramatically remade New England’s largest city and further tarnished Boston’s image as a city of cynics and curmudgeons with a “can’t do” spirit.
“I’m sad for Boston. I don’t think there are any winners here,” said Ed Lyons, a Boston resident who has been among the most active on social media defending the proposal. “I think a lot of people had a lot of hope and civic energy that they were willing to put into Boston 2024…That’s going to be a wound that hurts for a while.””
But Rafael Mares, an attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental group that’s been closely following the bid’s development, suggests that, if anything, the ferocity of the local Olympics debate showcased the ability of Bostonians not to shy away from tough questions.
“It’s a sign of how smart this region is that it can delve into the details, understand the numbers and come to the conclusion that this isn’t good for us,” he said. “Does that mean we don’t want any development or any improvements? No. Of course we do.”
Jake Duhaime, a Mansfield resident who had been among the early supporters of the games, blames Boston 2024 organizers for turning residents against the idea at nearly every step since Boston was picked over Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. in January.
“This bid started as truly grassroots. It had a heart and soul. But that got stripped through the process,” he said. “It became less about the Olympics and more about people cashing in.”
Duhaime also feared that public interest that seemed to be building around finally addressing some of the greater Boston area’s most intractable problems might evaporate, relegating those important topics to the back burner. “Now these stories move from page A-1 to page B-6,” he said. “They become irrelevant, because they’re not attached to the Olympic brand name.”
Opponents argue just the opposite, suggesting the end of the bid allows Boston to plan its future on its own terms.
“The Olympics were just a distraction from the types of discussions we should be having,” said Jonathan Cohn, a Boston resident who’s been among the most active voices on Twitter opposed to the bid. “We don’t need the Olympics to talk about fixing the (transit system) or climate change or underfunded schools or widening inequality.”
Massachusetts politicians and business leaders struck similar themes Monday.
“Boston is a great city. We have so many strong attributes,” said Mayor Marty Walsh as he thrust one of the final daggers into the heart of the city’s Olympics bid, declaring Monday morning that he would not sign a guarantee placing taxpayers on the hook if the games went over budget. “We don’t need the Olympics to plan the future of Boston, but the conversation of the Olympics has helped us look at things differently.”