Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Jan. 9, 2015 — For Boston — and Cambridge, and Newton, and Malden, and Revere, and Arlington ….

Yesterday evening, the United States Olympic Committee selected Boston to be the candidate city for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

For many Olympic-watchers, having an Olympics in the United States has become overdue; the last Games to be held in the U.S. was the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

Since then, however, there has been unprecedented scrutiny on the International Olympic Committee’s policies, bribery, and overwhelming vanity. At the same time, many IOC members have developed an aversion to the United States because of the potential for disaster due to terrorism or because of America’s free press, free speech, and free enterprise systems becoming a direct threat to Olympics’ rule-by-fiat system.

Boston, as a candidate city, is an interesting choice. Just about all of the infrastructure for the Olympic events are already in place. Boston College and Boston University have built state-of-the-art on-campus indoor arenas and could hold events such as gymnastics, volleyball, and indoor handball. The TD Garden will, of course, host basketball. Golf will be likely held at Brookline Country Club, where the U.S. Open and Ryder Cup have been held.

Rugby Sevens are likely to go to either Nickerson Field or Harvard Stadium, but depending on how demand goes, it could very well be moved to Foxboro, the home of the NFL’s New England Patriots. Beach volleyball would be on the Boston Common, and the rowing would be on a dammed portion of the Merrimack River. Sailing would be off Cape Cod, fencing would reportedly be at MIT, and weightlifting could be at Boston Symphony Hall.

An Associated Press story from a few weeks ago indicated that the goal of the Olympics would be to have 90 percent of the Games within 3.5 miles of the city. Thing is, there is a large patchwork of suburbs which will have to be dealt with, and not all of them are well served by the current public transportation infrastructure.

The subway system is one with three heavy-rail lines and one four-branched line run by electric trolley cars. It’s the trolley line, the Green Line, which could see the most traffic, since it serves Boston College, Boston University, Fenway Park, Symphony Hall, Northeastern, and numerous outlying destinations which could host Olympic events.

I do, however, think the big winner when it comes to public transportation when you look at the “macro” of the potential Olympic map is the MBTA Commuter Rail system. The system of purple-trimmed trains is the sixth-largest commuter rail system in the United States, reaching the eastern half of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The rail system has expanded its footprint since the 1973 consolidation of regional rail and freight lines, expanding into Rhode Island with further planned expansions into New Hampshire.

The main sticking point, however, is the plan for a central Olympic stadium. The current plan calls for a temporary facility to be built on the site of an impound lot in South Boston. The facility would either be disassembled or repurposed for the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer.

As temporary facilities go, the models for portability are cycling and ice hockey. These two sports have two very compact competition facilities — a velodrome and a rink — which can be assembled and disassembled in short order.

A 60,000 seat stadium? I think that’s a step too far unless there suddenly becomes an industry for assembling and disassembling these concrete and metal behemoths. Given the resistance that a number of cities have exhibited in the face of World Cup and Olympic bids, perhaps the engineering of large temporary arenas is going to become the growth industry of the 21st Century.

We’ll see.


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