Boston is considering a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, but it appears there are two very distinct camps in this whole scenario: one that is publicly pushing hard to bring the games to Bean Town and one that opposes the idea based upon the believed financial risk and drain it would put on the city and state.
“This is an important decision for the city of Boston, the areas around Boston and the state of Massachusetts,” said Humphreys, an associate professor of economics at WVU’s College of Business and Economics. “Hosting the Olympic Games is a massive undertaking, and requires common sense input before anyone sticks their financial neck out there.”
Humphreys is an adviser to the Brattle Group, a Cambridge-based consulting firm charged with analyzing a nearly $10 billion budget proposed by Boston Olympic organizers. The firm was hired by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who commissioned the study together with Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. The Brattle Group’s report is due in August, leaving approximately one month for review by state officials and the public before the U.S. Olympic Committee must submit a letter to the International Olympic Committee confirming that Boston will bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.
“That would give us what we’re looking for here, which is an independent, third-party, expert opinion on what would be expected of the Commonwealth here, which has been our concern all along,” Baker said.
According to the Boston Globe, the firm will look at the economic impact of the Summer Games, funding sources, insurance requirements, infrastructure costs and responsibilities of the state of Massachusetts if Boston were to host the Olympics. Humphreys, who helped WVU’s business school to a No. 6 world ranking in the field of sports and economics by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, emphasized that research would ultimately guide his input to the Brattle Group.
“I am taking a very deep and very focused look at data that’s available on this subject. When a city and state are talking about investing many billions of dollars to host the Olympics, they should have the best information to make the best, educated decision. That’s our charge,” Humphreys said.
This sports economist is used to situations like this one. He was in Baltimore when the NFL Colts left for Indianapolis, and he was there when the then-Cleveland Browns came to Baltimore to create the new Ravens franchise. Days before the Super Bowl this year, Humphreys said that research shows hosting a Super Bowl does not have any tangible impact on the local economy.
In a 2009 interview with the Globe and Mail of Canada newspaper, Humphreys even questioned the economic value of the Olympics.
“The economic impact of hosting the Olympic Games is always overstated by the organizers,” Humphreys said six years ago. “There is little evidence that hosting the games has any positive tangible economic impact, except to the extent that new infrastructure (roads and transport, not venues) is put in place.”
Still, Humphreys is a data and information guy. Boston 2024 said earlier this week it would unveil a revised version of its bid by June 30. Opposition group No Boston Olympics has indicated it will share its own analysis of the bid with the Brattle Group. And there is data for cities that have hosted Olympic Games in the past.
“All of the appropriate factors will be taken into consideration for this report,” Humphreys said. “I’m going to take an exhaustive look at everything I can get my hands on so that I can make the best recommendation I can as part of this group. That’s what everybody’s expecting.”
For further information about the WVU College of Business and Economics, visit be.wvu.edu.
CONTACT: Patrick Gregg, WVU College of Business and Economics
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