Olympic Debate: City Sponsors First Meeting to Discuss Bid

The city sponsored the first of nine public meetings at Suffolk University Law School on Wednesday to discuss its bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

                Before more than 300 citizens, a team led by Boston 2024’s Chairman John Fish and President Richard Davey, chairman and CEO of Boston-based Suffolk Construction and the state’s former secretary of transportation, respectively, outlined the privately backed advocacy-group’s effort to bring the Olympic games to the city.

                Fish said that the bid is currently in the “proof of concept” phase, and that proposed venues, including a controversial plan to erect a temporary beach volleyball stadium on the Boston Common, could change.

                “We have no definitive decisions on venue locations or transportation,” Fish said.

                David Manfredi, lead architect for Boston 2024, said a “midtown” stadium is currently proposed within a mile of South Station and “Olympic Boulevard” would run 1½ miles from that venue to Congress Street.

He said the games would primarily take place in two “clusters” – one located near the Seaport District, the other focusing on MIT, Harvard and other universities close to the Charles River.

                Also, Manfredi said 35,000 apartment units would be built to accommodate the athletes, which could later be reassembled and reused as affordable housing.

                Meanwhile, Mayor Martin J. Walsh appeared non-committal when asked whether a referendum would ultimately decide the fate of the Olympics in Boston, adding that it would depend if the vote were “binding” or “non-binding.”

                “This is an opportunity to have a conversation about what the Olympics can bring to the City of Boston,” Walsh said. “It’s also an opportunity to visit 110 different countries and market the city…regardless of whether we win the bid.”

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