No Boston Olympics wishes the runners, spectators, and everyone in Massachusetts a happy Marathon Monday and Patriots’ Day!
The Marathon is one of our Commonwealth’s great traditions. The 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston brings out hundreds of thousands of spectators along the entire course, starting in Hopkinton and passing through Ashland, Framingham, Natick, the scream tunnel in Wellesley, over Heartbreak Hill in Newton, through Brookline, and then the final turns on the streets of Back Bay. After the tragic attacks two years ago, our community rallied together with remembrance, pride, and renewed commitment to each other.
We love the Marathon and all that it represents for our region – a locally produced, one-day event that cements Boston’s place on the world stage. It’s for those reasons we share with you five reasons we choose the Marathon over Boston2024:
#1: The Elite Athletes Run With Everyone: While both the Marathon and the Olympics showcase elite athletes, the Marathon also showcases tens of thousands of amateur runners – everyday people who train in sub-zero temperatures before they head to work, in order to claim the same glory that the winning runners claim: to be able to say that they ran the Boston Marathon. It's your neighbor, your co-worker, or your cousin -- or maybe even yourself! And if you haven’t run a Marathon you’ve probably stood along the course, raising a homemade sign, cheering on the runners you know and urging on the ones you don’t.
#2: We Run Boston Every Year: The Marathon turns the world's attention to Boston each and every year, as it has for more than 100 years. Boston2024 would bring the same attention for a one-time, three-week event, but then the world turns to the next Games and another host city. Since the Marathon is an annual event, has a set course, and has no permanent facilities, the Greater Boston region has gotten really good at hosting it. While tons of planning and organization occur, it’s literally a one-day event, with few burdens on the communities where it’s held. In contrast, Boston2024 would take over our city for weeks and turn it “into an armed camp with corporate sponsors”, according to Charles Pierce, a former Boston Globe Magazine columnist, resident of Greater Boston, and current staff writer for Grantland.
#3: No Costly and Risky Venue Construction: As noted above, unlike Boston2024, the Marathon does not require the construction of costly venues, nor does it require the destruction of trees on Boston Common. By contrast, Boston2024’s “temporary” venues are slated to cost at least $1 billion. Moreover, Boston2024 has significant financial risk. As stated by the sports economist and Massachusetts resident Andrew Zimbalist in a Boston Globe piece last week, the Olympics have historically led to significant cost overruns, both overseas and here in the U.S.:
In fact, despite their reported modest operating surpluses, Salt Lake City and Atlanta experienced an average cost overrun of 88 percent before accounting for infrastructure expense. Further, the reported surpluses from the Games’ operations depended on significant public subsidies, over $600 million in the case of Atlanta and over $1.3 billion in Salt Lake City, according to a report from the US General Accounting Office.
That’s a critical point in our opposition to this bid and it’s a key reason why No Boston Olympics and Zimbalist call for Boston2024 to drop its demand that taxpayers provide a “blank check” for the Games. If the Olympic backers believe ‘no public money’ will be required, then let’s cement that promise.
#4: Tourism When Boston Actually Needs It: After the winter we just had, both the Red Sox Opening Day and the Marathon signal a return to warmer weather and, importantly for our economy, more visitors to the city. Boston's hotel occupancy rates are lowest in the winter, and climb steadily throughout the spring. By June, they hit 90% capacity and stay around that level all summer. The Marathon is a boost to Boston's tourism industry when we need it. A Summer Olympics are held during a season when Boston's hotels are already at capacity, meaning they would just displace other visitors.
#5: It's One Day -- Not Three Weeks: Bostonians like to work hard and play hard. Many take off Patriot’s Day and attend (or run in) the Marathon, maybe catch the 11 a.m. Sox game, or enjoy a well-deserved day off. We effectively shut down the city for one day, then on Tuesday get back to the important work Bostonians do every day. The Olympics are three straight weeks of road closures, travel restrictions, and neighborhood lockdowns that will force businesses to close and prevent people from getting to work – a fact that will have meaningful repercussions for our local economy. For London’s 2012 Games, organizers asked private citizens to work from home, and civil servants were told to stay home for seven weeks! You can be sure Boston2024’s boosters won’t be offering to reimburse for that lost productivity.
The Marathon makes clear that Massachusetts doesn't need the Olympics – or the weighty public debt and other costs attached to it – to continue to be a world-class city for world-class athletes, amateurs, and everyday residents alike.