Is Grand Prix of Boston about to hit the wall?
If it feels like we’ve seen this movie before.
Mayor Marty Walsh gets out in front in support of the idea of a big sports event coming to Boston. Other government officials, whose buy-in is needed, seem cool to the idea. The blowback starts about the lack of any public vetting of the idea, with residents who will be most affected complaining about being cut out of the process. The mayor who had championed the idea suddenly starts sounding like the watchdog who is wary of it, delivering an ultimatum to the would-be event impresarios that could set the stage for the plug to be pulled on the whole thing.
That’s the Boston 2024 storyline that played out as the mayor went from enthusiastic booster of a Boston Olympic bid to the guy who killed it because of persistent concerns about taxpayers being on the hook to pay for any cost overruns. It also now looks a lot like the narrative of Grand Prix of Boston, the Indy car spectacle that is supposed to send race cars rocketing through the Seaport next September at speeds of 180 mph.
Plans for the race were hatched by the administration with remarkably little notice, and concerns about whether the event can be pulled off seem to be growing. The Boston Herald, which has been the main media outlet, well, driving the story, today reports that the city has given race promoters 14 days to secure agreements with the several agencies that control most of the course.
The race needs buy-in from Massport, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, and the state Department of Transportation, which all control parts of the planned course. Massport head Tom Glynn has said he’s not prepared to spend the $500,000 needed for road work to accommodate the race. A convention center official tells the Herald his agency isn’t “anywhere close” to reaching agreement with race organizers on use of its roads, and state transportation officials have issued no permits for the use of roads they control.
“It brings back bad memories,” the Globe‘s Joan Vennochi wrote last month of the parallels to the Olympic flameout.
Politico‘s Lauren Dezenski reported in September that a Seaport neighborhood association was calling for next September’s race to be cancelled, writing in a letter to City Hall that the race had been “developed in secret with no public process.”
As with the Olympics, there are dueling points of view as to whether Indy car racing in Boston would be a financial boon to the city or drain on public dollars. As with the tepid reaction of state leaders to Boston 2024, there are not a lot of other officials racing to support Walsh’s idea of car racing in downtown Boston.
With the clock now ticking on the new City Hall ultimatum, it seems we may know soon whether this version of the movie ends the same way as the first one.
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The Berkshire Eagle charges that Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi is coming up with “context-free” claims about his challenger City Clerk Linda Tyler. (Berkshire Eagle)
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Richard Stutman, the head of the Boston Teachers Union, argues against lifting the charter school cap, saying public education shouldn’t be privatized. (WBUR)
Ohio Gov. John Kasich signs into law a measure requiring more charter school accountability. (Governing)
A Globe editorial backs the thrust of a provision in Gov. Charlie Baker‘s opioid legislation that would limit doctors to writing authorization for no more than an initial 72-hour supply for a first-time opioid prescription.
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ESPN is shutting down its sports and culture website Grantland. (Nieman Journalism Lab)
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Freedom Communications Inc., the owner of the Orange County Register, files for bankruptcy. (Los Angeles Times)
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Former senator and actor Fred Thompson who briefly ran for president in 2008 has died at the age of 73. (New York Times)SPORTS
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