Losing Olympic bid could mean gold

In addition to the polarizing debate over whether or not Boston can and should host the 2024 Summer Olympics, there’s more than a few people on both sides wondering what actually prompted the bid.

There’s the side that says Boston’s a world-class city with the wherewithal to be a successful host and stake a claim to being one of the best places on the planet to live, work, visit, learn, and play. Those opposing say all that is true but we don’t need to spend billions to prove it.

 

Those same naysayers claim the list of host cities that poured buckets of money down the drain into winning the bid and then creating the needed stadiums, housing, and infrastructure  diverted money from more important issues  while the Olympiad champions say a city like Boston needs more housing and updated transportation infrastructure anyway, making it a win-win because that new construction will benefit the city’s residents for decades to come.

Some say it would boost tourism not only in the Hub of the Universe but around the region while others say it would drive away tourists who would come anyway.

The New York Times today runs a piece from the upcoming Sunday magazine taking a data-driven look at the good and bad – mostly bad – economic experiences of cities and countries that have hosted the Olympics over the last six decades. The upshot is it’s a costly venture that rarely has the type of economic return touted by its backers. But the piece by former Times business reporter Binyamin Applebaum, a former Globe writer, entitled “Does Hosting the Olympics Actually Pay Off?,” has a really interesting throw-away line that may give a clue as to why four US cities – Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington – say they want to be considered as a host.

“Countries that host the Olympics experience a significant increase in trade, according to a 2009 study by Andrew K. Rose, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, and Mark M. Spiegel, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco,” Applebaum writes. “But their research determined that this was also true of countries that made losing bids for the Olympics – spending tens of millions rather than billions.  The benefit, in other words, came from the signal that a country was open for business, not from the spending itself.”

That may explain why Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, initially cool to the idea that is being driven by construction magnate John Fish and other major players, has semi-embraced the bid, if not the winning. If you can get the same results for a fraction of the cost, why not?

Applebaum shows that Los Angeles and Barcelona were two of the few cities that benefitted from hosting the Olympics, L.A. because they had many venues already in place, and Barcelona because it was already undertaking a major renaissance and redevelopment after emerging from the shadow of the Franco years and the Olympic construction just accelerated it.

The jury is still out on Brazil which just got done hosting the World Cup and is readying for the 2016 Olympics, a dual effort to highlight its emergence as a world economic power. But Applebaum notes other cities such as Bejing and Athens have cobwebbed-filled stadiums while cities such as London are still tallying the ledger but taking note of the loss of tourists that would otherwise have been in the old city.

The piece also makes a point about perception, offering the results of a study done in four countries before and after the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The study found that the view of the Australian city of those surveyed in the US, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and South Africa was pretty much the same one year before and after the Games, with one caveat: South Africans had a negative view of the Land Down Under because of the way the treatment of Aborigines was portrayed in the South African media, a reminder of their apartheid past. How many stories do you think would be written about busing and Boston’s racial history?

But all that said, there is still the case the economics itself may not be the sole reason to chase a bid.

““It’s like a wedding,” Victor Matheson, an economist at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, tells Applebaum. “It won’t make you rich, but it may make you happy.”

JACK SULLIVAN

BEACON HILL

Gov. Deval Patrick signs a substance abuse bill into law, the Associated Press reports.

State Auditor Suzanne Bump says a lawsuit filed against her by a former aide is without merit, the Associated Press reports.

Sharon man whose daughter was allegedly killed by a driver whose license was suspended urged lawmakers to pass a measure requiring Registry officials to notify local police in writing when someone’s license is suspended or revoked.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A Fall River city councilor is seeking a legal opinion on whether Mayor Will Flanagan overstepped his authority by implementing new fees and regulations for private trash haulers, a responsibility the council claims is theirs alone.

Lowell Mayor Rodney Elliott  is calling for an investigation into a videotape taken of a city employee and her mother while they were inside their home. The video was shot through the home’s windows, the Sun reports.

CASINOS

CommonWealth explores Brigade Capital, the source of the money behind the proposed Mohegan Sun casino in Revere. Brigade’s investors include the Massachusetts state pension fund.

Both sides are gearing up for battle over the ballot question that would repeal the state’s casino law, the Globe reports.

The Atlantic sees a bleak outlook ahead for casinos outside Las Vegas, but notes that the industry’s downward swing hasn’t yet dampened local enthusiasm for new projects: “Cities are authorizing more casinos for exactly the same reason that the existing casinos are losing business: the weak national economy.”

ELECTIONS

State regulators fine the super PAC that supporter Marty Walsh during his run for mayor, CommonWealth reports. 

A super PAC supported by former aides to Mitt Romney as well as the National Republican Governors Association is launching a TV ad backing Charlie Baker.

BU professor John Carroll analyzes campaign ads in Massachusetts and New Hampshire with Jim Braude on NECN’s Broadside.

The two Democrats squaring off in the September primary to take on Republican state Sen. Donald Humason of Westfield both favor repeal of the state casino law.

A German gun maker is taking heat from US gun rights activists for designing a smart gun, the Washington Post reports. The smart gun issue has become a key issue in the  Massachusetts Democratic primary for attorney general, with Warren Tolman pushing the technology.

Montana Sen. John Walsh, who has remained steadfast in his reelection bid despite a growing plagiarism scandal, is now weighing dropping out of the race to give Democrats time to field another candidate.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Dozens of supervisor-level employees at Market Basket submit complaints to Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office after they stopped receiving pay for work, the Gloucester Times reports.

Business confidence is up in the Bay State, according to the Associated Industries of Massachusetts July data.

The Washington Post  maps the country’s Internet speeds.

HEALTH CARE

Bucking recent trends, Steward Health Care is expanding psychiatric services at its network of hospitals, a move Steward says is enabled by changes in health care reimbursement systems.

Worcester  officials declare a public health emergency after a rash of deaths related to heroin mixed with an unknown substance, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

Partners HealthCare  posted a quarterly loss of $34 million, driven mainly it said by higher costs from Medicaid patients covered through insurance subsidiary Neighborhood Health Plan, which it acquired in 2012.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Dartmouth selectman and former state representative has been charged with embezzlement in connection with the federal contract his bus company received to run the regional transportation service.

Dedham police officer has been charged with giving his badge, handcuffs, and gun holster to three men who allegedly posed as constables and kidnapped an Easton man, whose disappearance is now being investigated as a homicide though his body has not been recovered.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

MEDIA

The National Association of Black Journalists’ annual convention helps Boston get past its negative reputation among people of color. Meanwhile, Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree discusses race relations at the gathering.