Boston Olympics could use NU dorms

December 12, 2014
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If Boston is chosen to host the 2024 Summer Olympic games, Mission Hill could be covered in journalists.

Northeastern University is included in the secretly crafted bid as potentially providing “housing support”—that is, accommodation for the hordes of journalists coming to cover the games.

The Olympics bid was created by a private committee called Boston 2024 and filed with the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) last week without public input or review. While the bid remains secret, it reportedly includes plans for beach volleyball at Boston Common, soccer at Gillette Stadium an equestrian events at Franklin Park.

John Tobin, Northeastern’s (NU) vice president of city and community affairs, confirmed to the Gazette that NU could house “several hundred” journalists in its dorms, which would be unoccupied during the summer. NU has about 8,000 dormitory beds, a number expected to rise by 2024.

Tobin said Boston 2024 “has reached out to every college and university in Boston.”

“They’ve been really diligent about it, reaching out to as many folks as they can to help the bid,” he said.

The current plan—which is still not finalized—was presented to Mayor Martin Walsh and key City officials during a briefing in October, then shown to a select group of journalists. Boston 2024 has declined to release it.

When asked about his position on the plan, City Councilor Josh Zakim told the Gazette through aide Kyndal Henicke that he does not currently have a position.

“He is still gathering information on the bid and would prefer to fully review its details before making a public statement,” Henicke said.

Boston 2024 Public Relations and Marketing Committee Co-Chair Doug Rubin told the Gazette after a community-organized opposition meeting in Jamaica Plain last month that a schedule of public meetings was expected to be announced last week. He did not mention the bid deadline.

Meanwhile, community members—supporters and opponents—can now sign up for a “community advisory group” on the Boston 2024 website at 2024boston.org.

Anyone who signs up will be included on the advisory group, a Boston 2024 official said. But there are no details on how it will meet or what its responsibilities will be.

“It’s important to note that plans are very preliminary and no final decisions have been made with respect to any venues for the proposed 2024 Games in Boston,” said Boston 2024 Executive Vice-President Erin Murphy Rafferty said in a statement. “Should Boston 2024 move on to the next phase of the bidding process, there will be a full community review before any final decisions are made. Also, the public will have input in all of the required approval processes when venue sites are being considered.”

But an opposition group, No Boston Olympics, says that there should be public input now, before national committees and corporate sponsors take increasing control of the process. No Boston Olympics says that Olympics are historic money-losers that saddle taxpayers with debt and negatively impact current residents and businesses.

The opposition group’s website is at nobostonolympics.org. JP’s Olympic protesters also have a site at bostonagainstolympics.bid.

According to reports in the Boston Globe and MassLive, Widett Circle in South Boston could play host to the Olympic Stadium for opening and closing ceremonies and the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center could host the amateur level combat sports like wrestling, judo, and boxing.

Boston has been shortlisted as a possible U.S. host for the 2024 games, along with Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Olympic Committee will next select a finalist to support as the official U.S. Olympics bid in January 2015. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will then select from worldwide applicants in 2017.

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