Messaging Boston 2024
January 9, 2015
January 9, 2015
The eyes of the entire nation are on Boston, as the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) announced that it will support Boston’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.
The head of the USOC told the Boston Globe, “One of the great things about the Boston bid was that the bid leadership and the political leadership were on the same page.” However, judging by many of the posts on social media last night, the public still needs some convincing.
For the record, I'll RT responses from anyone thrilled about #Boston2024. Just haven't gotten any yet.
— Adam Reilly (@reillyadam) January 8, 2015
Oh, God: Boston selected as American entry for 2024 Olympics http://t.co/0WRCk9peAR
— Adam Gaffin (@universalhub) January 8, 2015
It's this simple: RT #NoBostonOlympics
— John A Keith (@JohnAKeith) January 7, 2015
Anyone who has been to Boston knows it is a world-class city. People from around the globe attend our colleges and universities. Upon graduating, many students stay to work at a startup, research lab, internationally-renowned hospitals, or any number of sectors. Cranes dot the skyline as we work to house all those who want to be a part of Massachusetts’ success.
The USOC chose Boston’s bid because it already has many facilities that could serve as Olympic venues. Often cited as one of the nation’s most walkable cities, the USOC likes the idea of having venues close together to make it easier for spectators and athletes to get from place to place. It’s encouraging to know that Boston’s bid was selected because of its existing strengths.
And we’ve pulled off massive feats before, as Shirley Leung points out in today’s Boston Globe. From the 2004 Democratic National Convention to Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game in 1999 to the Big Dig (which, yes, went over budget), Boston has proven to the nation that it can be a host of high-profile events, even if it’s smaller in physical size than Los Angeles or New York.
Bostonians are skeptical by nature, and there’s plenty of research to back up the points made by those who oppose the games. The contents of the bid were not released to the public prior to Boston’s pitch to the USOC, per the request of the Committee. Cities like London saw final costs balloon from the initial estimates. Those who stand to profit from the Games have been among its biggest financial champions and spokespeople.
It’s long past time for the Boston 2024 team to reach out to the public to illustrate that the Olympics are a boon to all of Boston—not just those who stand to see financial gain. A good first step is Suffolk Construction head John Fish announcing his company will not work on any Olympics-related construction projects, which makes his interest in the Games appear more civically-minded than personally motivated. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who was elected with support from his union connections, announced a series of nine community meetings across Boston, saying “We’re not here to ram this down people’s throats.”
Our bet? Expect to see more athletes from the Boston area speaking to the media issue instead of businessmen and politicians as the case needs to be made to the public. By refocusing the argument on showing off the region and America’s athletes, it may sway the public to be more supportive—especially if the USOC and Boston’s leaders are open and transparent about the costs and infrastructure updates necessary to make the Games a success as the public process begins in earnest.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) won’t choose the host city until 2017, and Boston faces stiff competition from cities like Rome and Berlin. There is a long road ahead for those on both sides of the issue. Messaging will play a large role in the final result of these conversations.