In a hastily prepared press conference on Monday morning, where the media advisory went out less than 30 minutes before the announcement was scheduled to begin, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh declared that he would not sign the Host City Contract, guaranteeing (among other things) that Massachusetts taxpayers would pay for any potential cost overruns.
Walsh was adamant that he would not be rushed by the United States Olympic Committee, who he claimed were attempting to get his signature “as soon as possible.”
If you missed it, here’s Walsh’s full statement on the topic of Boston 2024 and the specific issue of the Host City Contract:
When Boston was selected as the United States bid to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we celebrated as a city, as a Commonwealth and as a nation. As a creative and innovative city, we saw an opportunity to reach beyond the Games and engage in a two-year conversation on how to build the Boston of the future, leaving a legacy for 2025, 2030 and beyond. However, even though we are only a few months into the Olympic process, I am being asked to commit to signing the guarantee in the Host City Contract, language of which will not be released until September. We have always anticipated being allowed to negotiate the Host City Contract until the IOC decides on a host city in 2017.
This is a commitment that I cannot make without assurances that Boston and its residents will be protected. I refuse to mortgage the future of the City away. I refuse to put Boston on the hook for overruns. And, I refuse to commit to signing a guarantee that uses taxpayer dollars to pay for the Olympics.
As Mayor, my responsibility is first and foremost to the taxpayers and I pledged from the start, and have consistently reiterated, the need to safeguard taxpayers from cost overruns. We were the only United States bid to require an insurance policy to indemnify the City of Boston throughout the bidding process and I have been clear that we would require a comprehensive insurance policy to cover Boston during the Games in order to move forward with our bid. While my Office of Olympic Planning has been reviewing the risk and mitigation package proposed by Boston 2024 last week, we are unable to conclude our analysis without knowing the full scope of risk contained within the guarantee for the 2024 Games.
Home to the world’s top hospitals and universities, Boston is already a model for the world. We are a thriving, healthy and innovative city and our vision of a 21st-century, affordable, sustainable Games won the bid on our first try. I continue to believe in the potential of the Olympics and its ability to bring long-term benefits to Boston and its residents. Over the past months, we have heard from thousands of residents from every neighborhood on what they envision for the future of their city, from housing to transportation to education. Millions of private dollars have been spent on extensive planning efforts for countless sites that hold untapped economic opportunity throughout our city that will be transformative. I look forward to continuing these conversations as we move forward with Imagine Boston 2030.
I want to thank the hard work of Steve Pagliuca and Boston 2024 on Bid 2.0, Boston is the only bid city that has made this much progress for the 2024 Summer Games. We have met every demand and every challenge but I cannot commit to putting the taxpayers at risk. If committing to signing a guarantee today is what is required to move forward then the City of Boston is no longer pursuing the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Image via @Haydenhbird