Greater City Providence

The Boston Globe: Boston picked to bid for Olympics


Photo (cc) Sam from Wikimedia Commons

The United States Olympic Committee has chosen Boston to be its entry in a global competition to host the 2024 Olympic Games, putting its faith in an old city that is brand new to the Olympic movement.

The USOC announced Thursday after a meeting at Denver International Airport that it will back Boston’s Olympic bid over those from San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and two-time Olympic host Los Angeles.

With the vote, Boston vaults into an unfamiliar, high-profile position on the international sports stage. During the next two-and-a-half years, it will be part of a competition that could include some of the most significant cities in the world: Paris, Rome, Hamburg or Berlin, Budapest, and Istanbul. There could be competition from South Africa, from Doha in Qatar, from Baku in Azerbaijan, and from other cities or regions attracted by new rules intended to make it easier to host the Games. A winner will be chosen in 2017.

So of course the big question for us is, what could this mean for Providence? Governor Raimondo tweeted last night that this is a, “tremendous opportunity to showcase state, region to the world.”

One thing we could do is speed up the trains between Providence and Boston so that attendees could utilize our hotel rooms. There’s already electrification on the line, the MBTA would have to invest in electric locomotives. Having all the platforms be high level would also speed up the trains. The proposed site of the Olympic Stadium is just to the south of South Station and right on the Fairmount Commuter Rail line, which Providence trains can make a direct connection to (Fairmount is not electrified (yet)).

The proposed location for soccer is at Gillette Stadium, which could also potentially be a positive for Providence. It would give us an opportunity to highlight our futbol loving international culture.

As the bid is still coming together, there could be potential to hold actual Olympic events in Rhode Island.

So what does everything think about this bid, how can Providence capitalize on it?

[alert type=”muted”] Boston 2024[/alert]

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • I think it would be terrible for Boston, but potentially amazing for Providence.

    Public transit investments and improvements is a common part of Olympic bids. RI should chip in for the EMUs and station improvements in exchange for long term improvement of service speed and frequency from PVD to BOS.

    Let’s make some improvements that everyone already thinks should happen and get some hotel tax, restaurant business, sales tax, etc.

  • What are greater Boston’s hotel capacities versus historic Olympic attendance? Will hotels in PVD fill as well, as overflow, even without faster trains?

    How do large airports in host cities typically fair? I wonder if regional airports like TF Green traditionally have benefited.

  • I didn’t even think of airports. It could be much easier for regional attendees to fly into T.F. Green and take a speed enhanced MBTA train to Boston. Will the runway expansion at T.F. Green be done by 2024? We could potentially see planes flying in from Europe.

  • I think it could be potentially devastating for Boston, but we would probably make out OK with some upgraded infrastructure. We’re just far enough out to reap the benefits without having giant construction projects wiping out neighborhoods for 2 weeks in the spotlight.

  • What exactly are the rail improvements that would increase transit time between Providence and Boston? Can these be quantified in actual minutes of travel time?

    Currently, it takes about an hour and ten minutes commuting time on the MBTA. Wouldn’t it be hurtful to Amtrak to reduce the spread between transit times on the two lines? This seems like a complicated proposal, but I’m not familiar with the specifics.

    Building a couple new hotels in Providence while simultaneously reducing the transit time from Providence to Boston to something in line with the Amtrak, or… offering a Providence to Boston Express train that takes like a half hour or 40 minutes and costs the same as the MBTA has the potential to really benefit Providence as a tourism destination and cheaper alternative to Boston. I think there would be people that work in Boston that would prefer to live in Providence where the cost of living is lower, if they know that they can get to work in 30-40 minutes for $330/month rail pass.

    Is there a reason why they don’t offer direct Providence-Boston MBTA trains a couple/few times per day? This would be a vital connection at a fraction of the cost of the Amtrak.

  • Well, we (PVD) may have a couple – three new hotels by then and certainly PVD Airport could be a very good way to get here.

    But, frankly, Boston is way out of its class. It simply does not have the capacity to handle this scale of event. I have no idea of how they were selected.

    I will bet a year’s income that it will not be selected. Paris, Rome, Hamburg or Berlin, Budapest, and Istanbul….come on now!!!

  • Alon Levy has written a lot about rail timing on his site, I’ll have to take some time to look for a good example. Basically, electrification is the best way to reduce travel time. The rails are already well built for speed for the Acela.

    Electric locomotives are lighter, which means it takes less time for them to slow to stop and less time for them to get back up to speed after stopping, reducing dwell times at stops. They can also travel faster because they are not encumbered by limited stopping distance, so an electric express is faster than a diesel express, both making no stops.

    Having all platforms be high level also lowers dwell time (people don’t have to climb on and off trains at stops) speeding the overall travel time.

    Alon has the specific timing, which I’ll try to dig up, but we could see significant increase in travels times on a T.F. Green -> Providence -> Route 128 -> Back Bay -> South Station train with electrification.

    As for Amtrak, they’re free to step up their game, but really, they’re not supposed to be in the nearby city commuting game, they are supposed to be for long distance travel. Amtrak would augment the MBTA bringing Olympic fans in from further afield in Connecticut and points south.

  • Ten years is a whole lot of time in the course of progress for our region.By the 20’s many ideas will come to fruition that we can’t predict at this time.I’d be willing to bet that the transportation system will have evolved into a much broader fabric including Worcester to Providence,and rapid trains into Boston from Providence even New Hampshire.The improved TF green runways will already be on line by that time.Who can possibly know what downcity and the knowledge corridor will contain;certainly more lodging and tourist orientated ideas that have not yet come to light.
    Boston certainly won’t be outclassed.The city has a university infrastructure that will help keep construction costs down.Foxboro is a jewel in the crown too.There are so many intangibles that we can’t imagine now.

  • I’ve read that the aim is to contain a large majority of the games within the city itself, with only the possible construction of one new facility between now and then (possible Revolution stadium in Boston). If this ends up being the case, Rhode Island should focus on making Providence the more desirable location for lodging. We’d be sure to at least get a couple new permanent hotels out of the deal, but it isn’t uncommon for lodging facilities to be built with the aim of converting to residential after the games. If this ends up being the case, I wouldn’t be surprised to see two or three new mid/high rises coming from this.
    The state would be wise to milk the hell out of Waterfire as an attraction during the games.
    We should also use this opportunity to make a strong push for the street rail project. The argument could be made that the international community would fail to take us very seriously as a potential destination if there isn’t proper transit infrastructure linking points of interest within the city of Providence.

  • What does it mean for Providence? All of the above … but nothing at all unless Boston’s bid gets confirmed.

    Which, unlike some others, I think is a realistic possibility. Sure, Rome and Paris have a lot of history on Boston, but would it really be any easier to shoehorn an Olympics into either of those cities? Obviously not. Boston’s bid is creative, original, and highly palatable to an IOC that needs to produce events every 4 years and might soon have a hard time finding cities and nations willing to drop fifty f***ing billion dollars for a few weeks in the spotlight.

    Give it time and we’ll see. Cart, horse, in that order.

  • But since we’re on the subject, a couple thoughts.

    1) Yes, assuredly we would get several new hotels if Boston were selected. This, along with the construction already slated to occur over the next several years, could be a great boon to Providence, in terms of image. Lot of cranes on the skyline continually for years, people could get the idea that Providence is booming. Could help attract additional private capital.

    2) On the other hand, do you build hotels in 2018 in preparation for an event in 2024? If Boston is selected, Providence will have to be wary about developers and their projected timeframes. We don’t want lots being land-banked, as it were, and sitting idle or underutilized for years.

    3) Warwick could be a big winner if Boston is chosen. With the Interlink in place, an Olympics could be the very thing that convinces developers to jump the tracks at City Center and create new, high-density hotel developments with the plan to convert rooms to residential later.

    4) Maybe the Olympics could also help spur the creation of the Providence trolley, but in that case the natural question becomes what good that project is without a line over to Atwells. Could we see not only a push to get that project stated, but also a push to expand the concept?

  • Just a couple of quick points:

    The lengthened runway is scheduled for completion (and is so far, on time and within budget) for December 2017.

    TF Green will already be getting nonstop flights to Europe this summer on Condor Airlines to Frankfurt with connections all over the globe as part of their partnership with Lufthansa (thank you Jetstream winds eastbound). Fares are 25-30% cheaper than the “usual” carriers from BOS to Europe.

    I would say that RI is perfectly positioned as a great option for travel and lodging given that the core of BOS will be insanely full and priced.

  • The T.F. Green has seen a decline in passenger counts and flights. Even my dad who works at T.F Green has noticed that T.F. Green has been quieter than usual. If Boston hosts the 2024 Olympics, passenger counts and flight counts need to increase and I haven’t seen any evidence that points to that. Granted there will be an obvious increase if Boston hosts the 2024 Olympics, but more people will be more likely to go to Logan if there’s fewer flights at T.F. Green.

  • One this is for sure, I’ll be renting out a room, bed, air mattress, sofa, blanket, floor and dishtowels if Boston were selected!

    This will bode well for Providence and the region, if not Boston. However, we would also need to expect serious inflation as 2024 approached as past host cities have. I wonder if there is data on the rise of costs from those cities?

  • Does Newport have the facilities for the Olympic tennis matches or are they hoping they’d be built. That’d be one summer I’d DEFINITELY avoid Newport (which I try to avoid in the summer anyway).

  • As I said before, how the American committee selected Boston is beyond me.

    If, in the VERY unlikely event it is selected, Providence can promote itself as the site for
    1) lodging
    2) a special Waterfire
    3) best dining in America
    4) arts and entertainment (lots of opportunities here)

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