Suffolk Construction Company CEO and Boston Olympic Committee chairman John Fish checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show on Tuesday morning to make his case to consider Boston as a potential host of the 2024 Summer Olympics. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Last month Boston made the U.S. Olympic Committee’s short list of candidates to host the 2024 Games.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for us to have an interesting conversation and a conversation that has not happened in the city of Boston and the Commonwealth in quite some time,” Fish said. “It really is talking about the vision of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of Boston.
“Where do we want to be in 2030? Where do we want to be in 2040? The Olympics allows us as a community to have that conversation. And to me, it isn’t about the Olympics, it’s about what Boston’s future is. So I’m focusing on, along with other business people and people in the educational field, to discuss that, and we’re working with the mayor’s office and governor’s office to have a robust conversation.”
Winning the bid for 2024 would result in a multibillion-dollar investment for the city to build stadiums and other athletic facilities, construct an Olympic village and revamp the city’s transportation system.
“One of the guiding principles we have is nothing that would be constructed would not have a legacy value subsequent to the Olympics themselves,” Fish said. “That’s a principle that we’d absolutely enforce.
“Secondly, I think we are fortunate to have over 100 colleges and universities in our backyard currently today, that some of them have uses for some of these particular facilities. And the sense is we are working with them not on their current plans today, but what is the long-term strategic plans for these institutions and what are these requirements and how do these requirements sort of fit together with the Olympics?”
Fish added: ”Let me be clear, it’s not about the Olympics, it’s about where the future of our city and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts wants to be, and should be, in 20, 25-30 years from now.”
The proposal by Fish and the rest of the Boston committee has received an overwhelming amount of scrutiny since the announcement was made, citing potential financial peril and the chaos as negative side effects to hosting the Games. Fish, however, said he believes the most recent Olympics in the United States have been largely successful.
“My sense is, when we take back in history and look at some of the impacts that these Olympics have had in the United States of America, they have been transformative in those particular areas,” Fish said. “Have they been 100 percent? No. But have they been strong legacy economic drivers? Absolutely.
“Using 2014 technology, we can do a tremendous amount of work on the planning side of this to ensure a successful outcome.”
Fish also said the Olympics is taking steps of its own to make it easier for cities to host the Games.
“People understand that the Olympics in a historic period of time have been challenging in some respects,” he said. “They’re doing everything they possibly can to make these more attractive, more appealing, more of an economic driver for cities like Boston.
“To me, this is a wonderful opportunity to have this conversation, not force the conversation, to see if Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the right environment to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
Fish said his company works on privately funded projects. The Olympics and the venues required, Fish said, would be privately funded, which means his construction firm could be in line for a significant payday.
However, Fish said he is more concerned about the positive impact he believes it could have on Boston rather than his own personal gain. He said he’d be willing to consider recusing his company from the project if it was an issue.
“This is not about Suffolk Construction, this is about the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the future of the next generation,” Fish said.