THE GROUP ATTEMPTING to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to Boston said Thursday that New Bedford will serve as the venue for Olympic and Paralympic sailing if their bid is successful.
The announcement is the first in a series of venue recommendations that reflect input from community organizations and elected officials, according to the group, Boston 2024. The organization, newly headed by Steve Pagliuca, cited in its announcement the “unique quality of Buzzards Bay’s wind resource,” which has been used by the Buzzards Bay Regatta.
But the news didn’t appear to sway one Boston Olympics skeptic. “I don’t think our priorities are right with respect to the Olympics,” said Rep. Robert Koczera, a New Bedford Democrat, who stated he would rather see a focus on transportation and education.
“I believe that this is going to cost the taxpayers of Massachusetts a lot of money,” Koczera told the News Service.
Supporters of Boston 2024, who have touted a “walkable” Olympics, have pledged that the games would be an effort primarily funded with private money, with planned infrastructure improvements that would occur regardless of whether the Olympics come to Massachusetts, and federal funds expected to cover security costs.
“The proposal for sailing in New Bedford was a reflection of listening: to communities, elected officials and athletes,” Erin Murphy, Boston 2024 chief operating officer, said in a statement. “We fully intend to adhere to our core mission of delivering a walkable, sustainable and public transit-oriented Games. The vast majority of the venues in our revised plan will be within a short radius of downtown Boston. For some events, like sailing, the best location will be in other communities around Massachusetts. New Bedford is a perfect example and we can’t imagine a better place for Olympic sailing.”
Beacon Hill leaders this week hired the Cambridge-based Brattle Group, a global consulting firm, to analyze the 2024 bid, including its financing, infrastructure needs, and the potential economic impact. Their analysis is expected to be released by mid-August.
Koczera said he was “honored” that his city was selected, but also expressed skepticism that the city would be included in the final plans, saying, “Everything is so preliminary.”
The International Olympic Committee will choose the host city for the 2024 Summer Olympics in 2017.
Boston 2024’s announcement on Thursday drew support from the mayor of New Bedford, UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman, and the executive director of US Sailing, Jack Gierhart.
“We were convinced that New Bedford could significantly contribute to the strength of the Boston 2024 Olympic bid. We made our case, pledged our partnership, and asked 2024 to evaluate our proposal on the merits,” the mayor, Jon Mitchell, said in a statement.
Separately, a development group with plans for a New Bedford casino is vying for the last available license in Massachusetts, authorized under the 2011 expanded gambling law.
Gierhart, in his own statement, said using New Bedford as the sailing venue will provide “improved” facilities.
“These waters provide some of the finest sailing conditions in the world and will deliver fantastic competition,” he said. “The New Bedford venue also offers an incredible opportunity for fan-athlete interaction and spectating that will set a new standard for Olympic sailing.”
[Andy Metzger contributed reporting.]