Steve Pagliuca

Hey, Boston 2024, it's not US(OC) -- it's you


Hey, Boston 2024. It's not US(OC). It's you. You have rightly earned the execution that common sense and political reality says you deserve on Monday.

Boston 2024 organizing committee 1.0 budget, with $471 million somewhere up in the air // Boston 2024

It's this elemental. The International Olympic Committee is holding its annual get-together later this week, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. At that meeting the IOC will select its 2022 Winter Games city, either Beijing or Almaty, Kazakhstan. The U.S. Olympic Committee simply cannot put itself in the position of going to a meeting at which the IOC is going to select an Olympic city without itself having a viable Olympic bid.

The USOC has given Boston 2024 time to prove itself. Too much time, to be blunt. But now time is up.

It's thus time to accept the inevitable and look ahead to what's next if the USOC has any hope for winning in 2024: Los Angeles.

In 1984, Los Angeles saved the Olympic movement. Now LA has to save the USOC.

And maybe win for 2024. Los Angeles is an Olympic city. It is America's Olympic city.

Recent events have pointed out the vivid contrast between Los Angeles and Boston.

Over the weekend, tens of thousands of fans went to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics World Games. The city of Los Angeles is spending $12 to $15 million in in-kind services in support of the World Games. A torch relay rolled through town before the ceremony.

Boston, meanwhile, has over the past six months proven to the world what most stereotypically consider its worst trait -- coming off as an insulated, angry group of navel-gazing NIMBYs who don't trust outsiders and don't think there is anything in the world that is better or can be improved about the place.

The Hub? Ha.

This Boston bid is so wretched that it has now emboldened Toronto -- which staged he Pan American Games this month -- to seriously consider a candidacy. Let's say Toronto ultimately jumps in. How is the USOC supposed to make the case for another city in the eastern time zone? Against a competitor that is hip, trendy and readily touts its status as the fourth-biggest city in North America? (Mexico City, New York, LA.)

On Friday, the Boston 2024 bid committee released the damning last details of Bid 1.0.

In December, the bid presented certain assertions to the USOC. In January, when Boston was selected, an amazing number of changes had been made. Later still, more changes.

Never even mind the trivial stuff, done for PR purposes, maybe, such as Patriots owner Robert Kraft originally said in December to be on board but mysteriously gone by January.

In the December file: a $471 million revenue gap in the committee's proposed operating budget. January: no mention of that gap or the fact that additional revenues would be needed.

$471 million? Not accounted for? What, it just vanished? No explanation?

December: opposition to the bid characterized as minimal. “Four local activists formed a group in opposition to our bid, and while we respect their differing views and their right to promote them, our polling data shows that they do not represent the majority of public opinion,” Boston 2024 wrote. “No elected official has publicly endorsed the group, they have not received significant financial backing and their efforts have been limited to social media.”

Reality: poll numbers have been -- from the start -- dismal, approvals now in the 30s or 40s. Opposition is a solid 50. The IOC won't go for those numbers. No way.

The televised debate last Thursday between USOC board member Dan Doctoroff and Boston 2024 bid leader Steve Pagliuca, on the one hand, and No Boston Olympics co-chair Chris Dempsey and Smith College economist Andrew Zimbalist, on the other -- it was always going to be a Hail Mary.

It ended up being most memorable for Zimbalist's observation that the bid committee's numbers reflected "drunken optimism." And of course the scene of Doctoroff, who is one of the smartest people anyone could ever meet, being portrayed -- predictably -- as the New York wise guy coming to tell the Boston people what they should do.

Back to December: no referendum. Now: referendum in November 2016.

This alone offers the USOC the easy way out. The IOC's Olympic Agenda 2020, president Thomas Bach's would-be reform plan,  considers the time before September 15, when applicants must be formalized, an "invitation" phase -- when bids are explored in a less-formal sense than before.

The IOC could rightly insist that any such referendum be held before "applicants" become "candidates," which would enable the IOC to kill off Boston early on in its IOC process, causing the USOC -- and the Olympic movement in the United States -- damage for years to come.

All the USOC has to do is hang its hat on Agenda 2020 -- that is, say Boston was an exploratory matter and switch to LA.

The details released Friday don't give the USOC any choice, really.

It would appear that Boston lied, cheated or misrepresented to win in the domestic phase against LA, San Francisco and Washington.

So which is it -- lying, cheating or misrepresenting?

Whichever --  the USOC can't be in the position of aligning itself with an effort where that is a central question.

Note that the Boston people didn't defend what was released in Bid 1.0. Instead, they said the focus now is on 2.0, released in late June. So telling.

If you are the USOC, one, how do you live with that? You hold yourself out to be the standard for the highest sorts of ethical conduct. Yet you would allow people to misrepresent, cheat or lie to you? You accept that -- you look not only foolish but incompetent.

Two, USOC board chair Larry Probst and chief executive Scott Blackmun have spent five years doing good work in the international arena. Should they now go abroad now and expect to be asked, which is it -- lying, cheating or misrepresenting -- and why in the world would you be sticking with this effort?

And there's more.

-- Boston 2024 fundraising? Millions of dollars, yes, but in the low single digits when the number that would be needed is roughly $75 million. Boston 2024 says, in essence, trust us. Query: why? On what basis has Boston 2024 earned public or corporate trust?

-- Mayor Marty Walsh's dithering on the host city contract.

-- Governor Charlie Baker? He has more information at this stage of the bid process than any elected official in history. (Not an overstatement.) And, still, he purportedly can't make up his mind.

These make up the financial and political currents that, finally, would reasonably compel the USOC to action.

You can't run a winning Olympic bid without strong -- indeed, unwavering -- political support.

The USOC, according to an Associated Press report, pushed Baker for support last Friday. (Did the USOC deny the report? Hardly.)

He responded by saying he's still waiting for a consulting report, due out in August.

The governor is due to call in Monday to the USOC's teleconference on 2024. He is on record as saying he's going to tell the USOC board the very same thing he said Friday: he's waiting for that report.

You can understand why, with the poll numbers in the tank, the governor might want to keep his distance.

Compare to Los Angeles:

Poll numbers in the high 70s. The mayor, Eric Garcetti, eager to bring the Games to town. The city council -- 15 members -- unanimously in support. Same for the five-person county board of supervisors: unanimously in support. Backing as well from all around Southern California, including the mayors of towns such as Santa Monica and Pasadena, where events would be held. The governor -- Jerry Brown, everyone -- on board, too, with a signed letter of support to the USOC. The leaders of the state legislature -- they're in support, too.

Indeed, Los Angeles provided to the USOC the signatures of the governor and state senate and Assembly leadership, what in California political circles is called the "Big Five." That letter got done in one day. What does that show? Not only that LA is America's Olympic city. But it's where Olympic stuff gets done.

This is all public. This is all on the record.

Behind the scenes, meanwhile, the IOC has made it clear what should be done. It knows, too, that change is hard and that a switch out of Boston might yield one rough week of bad PR for the USOC. But then that will be that, and the IOC will have what it wants -- a credible American candidate.

That's why, too, the time is now for the switch to LA -- to recognize the inevitable, and move forward.

Time for a shot at winning a 2024 race that might yet be winnable.


#USOCGoHome: seriously, how bad can this get?


Here is a group from the Rome 2024 campaign. They met Thursday at International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, with, among others, the IOC president, Thomas Bach. Afterward, it was all smiles.  

Just some of the Rome 2024 delegation with IOC president Thomas Bach //  Twitter

Now let’s search for a Boston 2024 group picture with Bach.

Oh, wait.

You mean there aren’t any? Not even one over the past six months?

Ladies and gentlemen, you know what they say: a picture is worth a thousand words.

To reiterate a point made often in this space, there is only one reason to play the Olympic bid game. It’s to win.

Boston 2024 is not a winner.

The Pan American Games are going on right now in Toronto. Guess who was there just a few days ago? Bach. It’s not far from Toronto to Boston, if you had the inclination to, say, talk up the advantages of Agenda 2020, the IOC’s would-be reform plan.

In bid offices overseas, they have to be gleeful at how bad this Boston 2024 effort is. Because what should be a time for an American bid to shine is, instead, day after day, week after week, a succession of headlines that figuratively scream, how bad can this get?

Indeed, if you’re Toronto, aren’t you thinking a good Pan Ams might just jumpstart your way into the 2024 race? The way it did for Rio de Janeiro in 2007 en route to IOC victory in 2009 for 2016?

The Canadian Olympic Committee even shrewdly put on a gala event in Montreal — where Bach won his gold medal in fencing in 1976. He was the special invited guest, and grew emotional in his reminiscing.

Just what the USOC needs — another contender in the eastern time zone.

In Paris this week, a huge crowd gathered on the Champ de Mars to celebrate Bastille Day and the launch of Paris 2024. The president of France was there. The mayor of Paris. Bid leaders. More than 100 athletes. The Eiffel Tower was lit up.

The Eiffel Tower lit for Paris 2024 and Bastille Day // Paris 2024

In Boston on Thursday, the two top USOC officials met with Mayor Marty Walsh — again, zero photo op — and afterward put out a well-intentioned news release.

But even that release made plain why Boston 2024 is a bad slog.

"We’re pleased to have the support of the Mayor and look forward to working with Steve Pagliuca and the entire team at Boston 2024 to make this bid a success,” USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun was quoted as saying.

Fascinating. Where was the governor, Charlie Baker?

Amazing that Blackmun, along with USOC board chair Larry Probst, could fly all the way to Boston, and take a meeting with the mayor, but the governor was available only by phone.

What the governor is doing right now is waiting for a report from consultants. They’re supposed to assess whether the Boston 2024 plan, dubbed Bid 2.0 in a release made public June 29, is financially feasible.

This is hardball realpolitik.

If this report comes back — next month, probably — and says Bid 2.0 would be a hard sell financially, the governor has the out he needs.

Without key political support, any Olympic bid is a dead-bang loser.

But that’s exactly where Boston 2024 is already.

Compare: in Lausanne Thursday, the Rome delegation was led by the mayor and included a senior representative from the prime minister’s office. That’s important generally but more so now for Rome because the former prime minister was the one who, in February 2012, pulled the plug on Rome’s 2020 effort.

Baker, as demonstrated again Thursday, has shown distance in his approach to Boston 2024.

When Bid 2.0 was released, meanwhile, Walsh — and it’s a bid city mayor who has to sign a host city contract — was nowhere near the scene.

Check Walsh’s Twitter account. There’s he’s a rah-rah cheerleader of sorts, posting regularly — in the last couple weeks, for instance, sending congrats to the U.S. women’s World Cup soccer champs, even wishing the Dalai Lama happy birthday. The last time he posted something about the bid? That appears to be a little over five weeks ago, when he declared, “I will not use public money to build Olympic venues.”

You wonder why Walsh would keep his remove, at least in public, from Boston 2024?

Let us count the ways:

— Post-Bid 2.0 poll numbers in favor of the project range from 37 percent to 42. Worse, 50 percent opposed. That 42 percent is the current WBUR poll; for anyone inclined to say it’s an improvement over last month’s 39 percent reading, that very slight increase falls within the margin of error.

— A stadium design that is estimated at $1.376 billion. For something due to be torn down. This at a time when cost estimates for the Tokyo 2020 stadium have spiraled north of $2 billion, up some $700 million from the original estimate. Who seriously believes that $1.376 billion would be the final number?

— Agenda 2020 is big on the use of existing and temporary venues. Nowhere does Agenda 2020 promote the idea of a temporary $1.376 billion facility. That runs counter not only to policy but common sense.

— Bid 2.0 features no plan yet for an aquatics center or velodrome and a media center priced out at a laughably low $51 million. How can taxpayers be expected to know whether there might be cost overruns when there are no costs to begin with?

— And, as longtime Olympic reporter John Powers points out in the Boston Globe, “What began as an intimate and walkable scheme — the non-LA alternative — now involves half a dozen counties and five of the state’s six largest cities.”

Too, the Globe reports, there’s suddenly going to be a public debate on Boston 2024. On the one side, there’ll be bid chairman Pagliuca and Dan Doctoroff, a former deputy New York mayor and New York 2012 bid leader who is now on the USOC board of directors. On the other, Chris Dempsey, a co-chair of the opposition group No Boston Olympics, and Smith College economist Andrew Zimbalist.

Pagliuca is a basketball guy. But this debate next Thursday is less two-on-two than the feel of something more evocative of football: it’s the Boston 2024 version of a political Hail Mary.

Like, just to be obvious, especially when there are locals who are affiliated with the USOC board of directors: why invite the New York guy to woo the gentle folk of Boston? Should he wear a Yankees cap for full effect?

In Boston, what was the top trending hashtag Thursday? “#USOCGoHome”

Also Thursday, as the Globe reported, a group opposed to public funding for an Olympics filed papers with the state attorney general, aiming to put a question on the November 2016 ballot that would largely prohibit the state from spending money to support the Games.

The USOC has a Sept. 15 deadline by which it must decide what to do.

Upcoming next is the IOC session in Kuala Lumpur, at the end of the month. There you can bet senior USOC officials will hear the same thing they heard in Toronto — you’re making this unbelievably hard and you need to do something to change it.

The answer is so blindingly obvious.

Again, the idea is to win, and to do so within the constraints of Agenda 2020. It’s not to engage in 20- or 30-year urban planning; that’s the lesson from Sochi 2014, and the $51 billion figure associated with those Olympics. Indeed, the unhappy fallout from that $51 billion clearly animates Agenda 2020’s call for restraint.

In Los Angeles, the stadium is a real thing.

Not only that, it was announced this week that USC, which now controls the LA Memorial Coliseum, reportedly has chosen Fox Sports to sell naming rights to the venue.

USC is committed to renovating the facility. Renovations figure to be in the $600 million range. Naming rights figure to bring in huge dollars; the Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Games, among other spectacles, has never had a naming rights partner.

At the same time, the NFL appears closer than ever to being back in LA. Hello, Coliseum rent.

USC is acting boldly.

The USOC could, too — and here’s how.

The newest initiative on the Olympic scene is what are called the "ANOC World Beach Games." They are now being pushed, and hard, by one of the most influential people in the Olympic scene, Kuwaiti Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah.

The sheikh is the president of the Assn. of National Olympic Committees and, as well, the Olympic Council of Asia.

The first edition of the Beach Games? Perhaps as soon as the summer of 2017.

The 2024 vote? August 2017.

What’s going to be the hot ticket at the Rio 2016 Olympics? Beach volleyball.

Worldwide, everyone knows the home of beach culture: Southern California.

Would it really be that difficult to stage a Beach Games — and win incredible goodwill — in, say, Venice, California?

Venice is hip, urban, has a famous stretch of beach and, not incidentally, is now the home of Snapchat, the way young people increasingly talk to each other. The Beach Games assuredly is aimed at the demographic the Olympic movement has had such difficulty reaching, teens and young 20s.


Also imagine: the IOC is said to be very supportive of this ANOC proposal. At the same time, IOC rules prohibit members from visiting bid cities. But, you know, what about seeking a waiver for those interested in seeing the Beach Games?

If that notion would work the IOC ethics people into a frenzy, there’s always San Diego. It got cut from the USOC 2024 list but is known since to have expressed interest in the Beach Games. San Diego is not Los Angeles; just ask anyone in San Diego. But say what? San Diego is only a two-hour drive away?

This, of course, underscores the fallacy of the no-visit rule. But that’s a topic for another day.

Right now, the days are counting down to Sept. 15. Kill the Boston bid. It's time for the USOC to move with boldness, creativity and resourcefulness. The United States deserves at least a winning chance at pictures with the president of the IOC that are all smiles.

Predictable, unfortunate: Boston 2024 for now


Predictably if unfortunately, the U.S. Olympic Committee on Tuesday decided to stay the course — at least for now — with the “partners” who threaten to drag it down, Boston 2024, officials saying they want time to judge if Boston’s Bid 2.0, a nakedly jacked-up economic development project, can turn matters around.

An Olympics is supposed to be about the athletes. A celebration of sport and ideals: friendship, excellence and respect. You wouldn’t have known that from the news conference immediately following the USOC’s board of directors meeting, in which USOC and Boston 2024 leaders focused almost exclusively on urban development, Boston 2024 chairman Steve Pagliuca saying of Bid 2.0, “What has transpired since [its] release yesterday is the discussion now is this is an amazing economic development program that allows the state and city to accomplish a lot of goals, including jobs.

“This program includes 100,000 job years,” he said, adding, “That’s the gross number of jobs created by the Olympics itself, and by the infrastructure that’s needed for the Olympics. It brings in billions of dollars to the region. Housing. And all sorts of other educational and other opportunities for youth. I think we have to have a new discussion on that opportunity and that we represent the United States in one of the most important sporting events in the world.”

A moment later, again: “This is a rare opportunity. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I haven’t seen an economic development opportunity this large in the last 35 years in Boston. It’s the opportunity of a generation.”

At Tuesday's USOC news conference // via Twitter

Gosh, if only Bud Greenspan were still alive to have filmed such a moving and touching soliloquy to the Olympic Games and all they stand for.

If the USOC had the guts to do what it should do, what it knows it needs to do, it would drop this nonsense and get on with a bid from Los Angeles.

It would run LA for 2024 and, if need be, 2028.

The low polling numbers in Boston, with approval ratings at 39 percent — or if you want to be charitable, in the 40s — are evidence of how poorly this thing has been received.

But no.

After the board meeting in Redwood City, California, both Larry Probst, the USOC board chair, and Scott Blackmun, the USOC’s chief executive, took pains Tuesday to stress that the intent is to give Bid 2.0 time, to see whether the poll numbers can creep up to acceptable levels.

The IOC wants 70 percent.

Like any guest who comes to someone’s house, the IOC wants to feel welcomed. At 70 percent, it feels the love.

As Blackmun said, “At the end of the day, it’s about the fact that we have a new plan. That plan has not had a chance to be rolled out in Boston yet. We are very intrigued by it. We are very excited by it. It is, as I said earlier, a plan that is really consistent with the vision that formed the basis of the USOC’s decision in January,” when it picked Boston over LA, San Francisco and Washington.

How that can possibly be the case — consistent with “the vision” earlier in the year — is, at best, problematic.

The January plan was based on “walkability,” the idea of Boston as an “Olympic Park” and the intense involvement of area universities to engage young people.

Now, for instance, Harvard is in only for archery.

Venues are being spread all over Massachusetts, in a clear play to try to win votes for a November 2016 statewide referendum — a measure that Probst acknowledged the “IOC has expressed some concern about,” which is code for a tremendous amount of concern.

Boston as Olympic Park? Try beach volleyball, which originally had been set for Boston Commons, now in Quincy.

Because venues all over the state, so much for walkability. As even Boston 2024 vice-chair Roger Crandall noted Tuesday, the original concept was “originally envisioned as a completely Boston-centric plan.”

And as of Monday the Bid 2.0 focus is on a Boston Games as urban catalyst — when Sochi 2014 cost $51 billion, Beijing 2008 at least $40 billion, London 2012 some $14 billion, Rio 2016 now pegged at $16 billion.

This is why the Olympics are now such a tough sell in western democracies. Yet this is precisely the sales job the USOC and Boston 2024 want to try to foist upon taxpayers?

Pagliuca took some time Tuesday to try to explain levels of insurance as backup. Good luck explaining that around town. For most people, listening to that is like listening to the teacher’s voice in the old Charlie Brown cartoons: wah wah wah wah. Something about insurance, right? And didn’t he say that the Olympic Village is going to cost $2.8 billion? That’s a lot of money!

Pagliuca, obviously new to the Olympic bid scene, also committed the two cardinal sins for any American — lasering in on the financial upside of a Games and proclaiming that “we” will win.

The IOC traditionally has displayed an intense disfavor for Americans who focus on money. Moreover, the IOC wants Americans to show humility in every regard.

Pagliuca: “Any great project, anything that can be so transformational, create a whole new neighborhood, parkland, connections, leave Boston in a much better place in 2030, 2040, that dovetails with the mayor’s plan in terms of urban renewal and growth, I think people will decide that small risk is well worth taking to get those incredible benefits, and bring in the billions of dollars for the Olympics, and the thousands of spectators from all over the world to showcase Boston as a world-class city.

“So we are very confident that the voters and anybody who looks at this will say this is a very sound, prudent plan that minimizes the risk and maximizes the opportunity, and fits in well, and perfectly, with Agenda 2020,” IOC president Thomas Bach’s would-be reform plan, “and I think will be the winning bid on the world stage.”

So backward.

A winning bid focuses not on what an Olympics can do for a city. It’s what a city can do for the Olympic movement.

Yet here was Pagliuca talking about new neighborhoods, jobs and economic development, and the USOC leadership resolutely sticking up for this noise in hopes of seeing poll numbers tick up?

When there’s an alternative where the poll numbers are already way, way up? Like, in the high 70s?

Where the focus is putting on a great Games in service to the Olympic movement? Just like in 1932 and 1984?

There is so much good that can be said, and sold, about an Olympics, particularly in the United States.

Yet now we are already reduced to the pros and cons of a public-policy exercise?

That’s not what an Olympic bid should be about.

It should be about inspiration.

Not contracting.

Which, by the way, this Boston bid gets totally wrong, too. If you get a bid on work in your house, do you really, truly expect the contractor to deliver the job for the amount it was bid for? How often in real life does that happen? Isn’t it more like x plus 30 percent? If you’re lucky?

In the Olympic world, 30 percent would be a godsend.

Those London Games — again, finally, $14 billion — were originally pitched as a $4 billion exercise.

When the Games were awarded to London in 2005, it was said Olympic Stadium would cost $440 million. Now, after transforming it to a 56,000-seat soccer stadium, with track and field facilities: $1.1 billion. West Ham, the Premier League soccer team, is contributing all of $24 million. Thanks, West Ham!

In Tokyo, site of the 2020 Games, according to reports out just this week, the National Stadium is now due to cost $2 billion. Original estimate: $1.3 billion.

This, by the way, after Tokyo 2020 officials have cut $1.7 billion overall via Agenda 2020.

Who in their right mind really thinks Olympic budget projections end up being the real deal?

Boston 2024 is proposing a temporary stadium that would cost — they say — $1.376 billion. It would be torn down after the Games.

Blackmun: “The thing we want to avoid more than anything else is building expensive permanent stadiums that [are] un-used after the Games, so whether it’s a temporary stadium that’s relocated or a permanent stadium that’s used by somebody else, the thing we want to avoid are permanent stadiums that aren’t used. So if this is a cost-effective approach that minimizes the budget expenditure of the stadium, we are completely in favor of it.”

As opposed to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which is already there, which is twice a proven Olympic success, which is going to be refurbished — without cost to taxpayers for up to $600 million — by the University of Southern California and which is guaranteed, no matter what, to be used?

In that comparison, and an Olympic Stadium is the centerpiece of any bid, it’s very difficult to see the logic that favors Boston.

The looming problem, as all associated with this process know, is the fixed Sept. 15 deadline by which to submit an American candidacy.

In July, the USOC intends to see where the poll numbers stand.

Another problem: Boston 2024 and the USOC are playing an old-fashioned game, trying to win support through the Boston Globe and other traditional, mainstream avenues.

What, at 3:10 p.m. eastern, was the No. 1 trending topic in Boston on Twitter?


At 7:10 p.m. eastern, as the news conference was wrapping up in California, the No. 1 trending line in Boston?


A sampling:

You want inspiration? You're going to get hardball, bare-knuckle politics. What an Olympic dream!

Speaking of political intrigue: when it comes to the 2024 bid, Mayor Marty Walsh is increasingly looking like Waldo.

The USOC took pains to highlight a constructive working relationship with Walsh, who flew to California to meet with its board Monday night, stressing that he is purportedly a solid backer of the bid.


Was the mayor at the Tuesday news conference? No.

Was the mayor in Boston Monday at the Bid 2.0 unveiling Monday?

Isn’t this supposed to be now about winning public support, not schmoozing with the USOC board behind closed doors? Which plays right to the hands of the many vocal activists who complain that this entire thing is a real-estate play that has little to do with sports or the Olympics and a lot to do with people of power and means talking to each other in confidence?

Which after Tuesday -- the rebuttal is, what?

Weird but so predictable. Just like the decision Tuesday to go forward with Boston.

Bid 2.0 is DOA: the Barcelona model is done


It’s natural for proponents of an Olympic campaign to be all cheery and optimistic, and such was the case Monday when Boston 2024 unveiled its so-called Bid 2.0, new bid leader Steve Pagliuca declaring, “We’ve now done the ‘little-picture' thinking. We think we’ve made the major leaps.”

On the eve of Tuesday’s key U.S. Olympic Committee meeting, however, this reality check: Bid 2.0 is rife with revenue and expense issues that call into question not just its fundamental premises but also, bluntly, the integrity of the process. Moreover, the Boston bid — as the pronounced absence of the mayor at Monday’s event emphatically underscores — faces political problems galore.

No one likes to admit to a mistake.

But when it meets Tuesday in Redwood City, California, the USOC board of directors would do itself — and the Olympic movement at home and worldwide — a huge favor by killing off this troubled Boston bid.

Boston 2024 bid leader Steve Pagliuca at Monday's news conference // screenshot WCVB

Boston 2024 hasn’t been good from the start. Bid 2.0 is not going to help matters.

The obvious answer is to move to Los Angeles, for 2024 and, if need be, 2028. The USOC knows this. It’s now a question of finding the courage to do the right thing.

Time, indeed, is of the essence.

There is within the IOC, which is based in Lausanne, Switzerland, something of a movement to see the Games return to the United States in 2024.

But not Boston.

Over recent weeks in Lausanne, and in Baku, Azerbaijan, where the first European Games just concluded, there has been talk. And that talk, as it relates to Boston — by at least a third of the members of the IOC, if not more — has been uniformly negative.

It's easy to understand why. The poll numbers of 39 percent. The leadership shuffles. The changes from the original “walkability” plan. And more.

In the meantime, there is so much wrong with Bid 2.0, it’s truly difficult to know where to start.

Deep breath.

Here goes.

The overarching problem is this:

It is commonly said that the 1984 Los Angeles Games transformed the Olympics. That is true. Under the leadership of Peter Ueberroth, they ushered in the commercial era that now dominates the movement.

But it is also true that Barcelona 1992 may be just as, if not, more important: those Games showed mayors, governors, prime ministers and presidents that the Olympics could serve as a catalyst for an urban makeover on a grand scale.

Because an Olympics comes with a seven-year hard deadline — the time from the awarding of a Games until opening ceremony — it offers the opportunity to get done in seven years what would otherwise take, public policy-wise, 20 years, 30 or more.

Barcelona was a middling city on the Mediterranean before 1992. Now it is one of the world’s most desirable tourist destinations.

Since 1992, Olympic bid cities have used Barcelona as a model for hugely expansive urban makeovers.

That, in a nutshell, is what Boston 2024 Bid 2.0 is selling:  the creation of two new neighborhoods. One would be “Midtown,” an 83-acre neighborhood at Widett Circle, the site of what would be a 69,000-seat temporary Olympic stadium. The other revolves around development of 30 acres at Columbia Point, the proposed waterfront site of the athletes’ village.

The problem is elemental.

This urban-catalyst approach to the Olympics came to a screeching halt with the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and the $51 billion figure associated with those Games.

No one is suggesting that Boston would be a $51 billion noose.

But the idea of using the Games, Barcelona style, is over. Yet that is the fundamental driver of Bid 2.0.

You see the comparisons throughout Bid 2.0 to New York’s failed 2012 bid, and the Hudson Yards project. New York ran that bid in 2004 and 2005. That, in Olympic terms, is a long, long time ago.

Indeed, the entire premise of IOC president Thomas Bach’s Agenda 2020, his would-be reform manifesto, is to move away from these enormous urban makeover projects.

The IOC is still big on "legacy." In the jargon, that's what a Games can mean to a community during and after the 17-day run of an Olympics.

But after killer cost overruns in Sochi, Beijing (2008), London (which won for 2012) and, now, Rio (2016), the mega-city turnaround game is over.

Especially Sochi — this is the reason so many taxpayers in western democracies have turned against the Olympic movement. They fear the problematic nature of the costs associated with an Olympic Games.

As even the Boston 2024 people note in their glossy packaging, the Tokyo 2020 people have saved $1.7 billion via Agenda 2020.

So why go with a plan that proposes the construction of two new neighborhoods?

Does that, in our world as it is today and is likely to be in 2024, make sense?

Moving on to the details of Bid 2.0 itself.

The key document in everything that was made public Monday is called “planning process, benefits, risks, opportunities.”

First, revenues.

Some background. There were four U.S. bid city finalists: Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington.

All four bid cities last year received a set of numbers from the USOC. All four were told to use certain figures to assess projected revenues in developing their bids. The big-ticket items were, as ever, an IOC contribution, ticketing and domestic sponsorship — all in, about $3.8 billion.

That $3.8 billion, however, was in 2024 dollars.

Adjusted to 2016 dollars, that $3.8 billion is really more like $3 billion even.

On Monday, turning to page 20 of the document, Boston 2024 projected $4.27 billion in those three big-ticket items.

That’s up roughly $1.25 billion (given rounding errors).

Think about a bid that San Francisco, Washington or — in particular, Los Angeles — could have put together with an extra $1.25 billion.

These next questions deserve to be asked:

Is what Boston 2024 has done in this instance fair? Does this sort of financial maneuvering demonstrate integrity, particularly when the bid people are fully aware that only a very few people know, truly, how the system works?

Some more finances, just to show the import of what’s on the printed page.

Back to page 9, entitled “Increased Boston tax revenues: Opportunity for significant investment.”

Here it purports to show that the city of Boston would earn $362 million in tax revenues by the year 2080 at Widett Circle.

That $362 million sounds impressive, right?

If you put $5 million into the stock market today and got a 7 percent return for 65 years, until the year 2080, you’d have $400 million.

So even though that $362 million looks big, it’s really nothing compared to the investment the people of Boston would be making.

Which makes for an excellent segue to expenses.

Let’s go there.

Pages 31 and 32: no aquatics center, no velodrome, no press center.

The Boston 2024 people keep asking for time.

Just give us time to make our case, goes their refrain.

And yet after a lengthy domestic bid process, a presentation last December to the USOC, being picked in January by the USOC and nearly six months’ more work — these three major items still can’t be produced?

Come on.

Moreover, the press center is low-balled at $50 million. That’s laughably low, probably a third of what it would really cost.

Turning to the stadium, and here you have to cross-reference between pages 22 and 35.

If they wanted to make this easy, they would have, right? But no.

Page 22: the temporary Olympic stadium costs pegged at $176 million.

That’s $176 million from the organizing committee’s budget. That’s one column of money.

But wait, page 35: $1.2 billion in additional costs for the stadium site, including land acquisition and relocation, “infrastructure” and contingencies.

This, then, makes up an entirely separate column of cash, to be paid for by a “master developer,” to be named in the future.

So: $1.376 billion, which is starting to sound about right, since NFL stadiums these days are in the $1.8 billion range.

Now let’s ask the common-sense questions:

Boston 2024 is asking a developer to spend $1.2 billion before it, the would-be Olympic organizing committee, spends a nickel. Who wants to step up?

If it’s such a great opportunity, why hasn’t it already been done?

As this prospectus of sorts notes, “Risks include higher than predicted costs for the land, relocation and decking. Current land owners could refuse to negotiate reasonable value for property. Risks also include failure to deliver proposed rezoning or tax agreement.”

All that? Really?

Just for the sake of being obvious: Los Angeles already has an Olympic stadium. The Games were held in the Coliseum in 1932 and 1984. The University of Southern California, which now manages the Coliseum, has committed to renovate it, whether there’s a Games or not, to the tune of up to $600 million.


Option 1: LA will have a fully state-of-the-art facility available to the USOC without spending anything.

Option 2: Boston would spend $1.376 billion, at the least, for a stadium that is going to be torn down.

Which makes more sense?

For the sake of fairness: Los Angeles would obviously have to spend money on the Coliseum to get it particularly ready for an Olympics. The Boston bid is pegged at $176 million for stadium work; an LA committee was prepared to spend twice that.

Moving on to the athletes’ village, and turn, please, to page 37.

Here, Boston 2024 would have to find another master developer to spend another $1.9 billion. Risks include “higher costs associated with Athletes’ Village” and more.

At any rate: In Iraq we called this nation-building. Now we call it neighborhood-building.

How about security?

Please turn to page 50. The 2024 Olympic Games would be a massive security undertaking, almost surely what’s called a “National Special Security Event” like the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Federal agencies take the lead in such events.

“Federal funding for security will be required,” the document asserts, and while there are dollar figures aplenty throughout the rest of its pages, there curiously is no mention here of what this might cost taxpayers throughout the United States for the Games.

Figure at least $1 billion.

Once more: is this honest? In keeping with (Agenda 2020-mandated) best-practices standards of transparency?

You wonder why key Massachusetts politicians have kept their distance?

U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, the Democrat who represents the district that includes the site of the temporary stadium, said a few days ago, “I really think it’s a bad idea. I think we can come up with a better solution.”

More critically, where was Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on Monday?

He was in Colorado, at the "Aspen Ideas Festival."

Just brutal.

The mayor is per IOC protocol the bid's political point person.

This is the bid’s big revival? And the mayor is talking up ideas instead of Bid 2.0?

Doesn’t that tell you everything you need to know?

If the United States is to have a chance at 2024 — indeed, if the IOC is to have a chance at giving the U.S. a chance — there’s only one option.

Mistakes are never fun to admit. But better to do it, and get it over with, and move not just along but ahead.

Kill this thing now. And get going with Los Angeles. Time is of the essence.

What we have here is a bait-and-switch

Rule No. 1 of politics is look after yourself. Thus the mayor of Boston and the governor of Massachusetts have to be ever-so-quietly tripping over themselves in a race to bring the execution hammer down, and hard, on Boston 2024. What we have here, friends, is a situation that is not good and is not going to get better. This space said so nearly two months ago in urging the relevant authorities to pull the bid. It’s actually worse now than then, and here’s why: Boston 2024 has devolved into a bait-and-switch, and if all involved would just step back and see it for what it is, and has become, they would be well-advised — for their own self-preservation — to kill it now.

Before it truly gets ugly.

This means — especially — the U.S. Olympic Committee, too.

What we have here, bottom line, is one of the most inexplicable failures in recent Olympic memory of due diligence.

Forget for a moment about being the mayor of Boston or governor of Massachusetts. If you were the mayor, governor or president of the chamber of commerce representing one of the nearly three dozen cities that got looked at and passed over in the course of this WTF process, wouldn’t you start wondering about matters such as “accountability” and “oversight”? To whom might you direct your concerns?

Further, who now should have a high level of confidence in the USOC to run a bid process? Considering: Chicago 2016? New York 2012? Now this for 2024?

The USOC 2024 process

The USOC embarked in February 2013 on a path designed to gauge interest in the 2024 Summer Games. It sent out letters to the mayors of 35 cities.

In June 2014, the USOC cut that list to four: Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington.

Last Dec. 16, the four cities made presentations behind closed doors to the USOC board of directors.

On Jan. 8, the board picked Boston.

Ultimately, San Francisco and DC were never going to be viable, each for different reasons. The contest, really, got down to LA and Boston.

Boston was chosen, purportedly because of the walkability of many of its venues centered around its collection of colleges and universities; the strength of its leadership team, featuring businessman John Fish; and its “athlete-focused vision” for the Games.

USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun, in a news release, when Boston was picked: the USOC “couldn’t be more excited about the strong partnership we’ve established with the leadership team in Boston,” primarily Fish and Mayor Marty Walsh.

USOC board chair Larry Probst: “We’re excited about our plans to submit a bid for the 2024 Games and feel we have an incredibly strong partner in Boston that will work with us to present a compelling bid.”

But wait.

What about the vocal, local opposition?

In Los Angeles, poll numbers in favor of the Games ran to the high 70s. Those kinds of numbers are virtually unheard-of in a democracy.

At that closed-door meeting in December, Walsh either did — or did not — say there was no “real opposition” in Boston.

It simply could not be the case that there was no opposition.

Poll numbers in favor of the Games have consistently run about or under 50 percent, dropping as low as into the 30s. Opposition has been organized and loud. When asked if public funds would be used, opposition to the Games skyrockets.

How could the USOC have so failed to vet Boston appropriately?

The Boston situation

Since the day Boston was selected, the situation has gone from bad to worse.

There has been misstep after misstep — public relations, organizational, political.

Some have been widely publicized, including the blunder by Angela Ruggiero, the U.S. hockey star and now International Olympic Committee member, who on Monday told the Boston city council, “Right now, the USOC is going through a similar vetting process to make sure Boston is the right city. So there’s no guarantee Boston will be the city in September,” when the IOC requires a formal submission of bids.

Strike one: wasn’t that vetting — in other terms, that due diligence — supposed to have been done by January, when the USOC made its choice?

Strike two: “no guarantee”? Yikes.

Some missteps have not been picked up the mainstream press, which typically is not keyed in to the dynamics of the Olympic bid scene. For instance, the world alpine ski championships were held in Vail, Colorado, in February, the biggest Olympic sports event in the United States in years. The IOC president himself, Thomas Bach, showed up. Did Fish?

And you wonder why in IOC spheres they look at us in the United States and ask why we can’t get our stuff together in these bid races? To date, and this is being gentle, in international circles the talk is this Boston bid has not particularly advanced American chances in 2024. Beyond that, what has happened in the United States has emboldened the likes of Paris, Hamburg, Rome and others.

Back to the particulars of the Boston bid itself.

It’s one thing in an Olympic campaign for there to be tweaks to a bid. But what is now the Boston 2024 bid bears almost no resemblance to the “plan” that got selected in January.

It's worth asking now whether there was actually a “plan.”

That is a huge, indeed fundamental if not unforgivable, part of the problem as it is now.

Instead of walkability, now there is discussion — purportedly spurred by the IOC’s Agenda 2020 would-be reform platform — of having events anywhere and everywhere. All over New England. Chicago, maybe. What about New York?

That’s not fair and that’s not right to the other three dozen cities who started out in this process; it’s especially not fair and not right to LA and, as well, to San Francisco and DC.

To use a distinctly American expression: that’s shifting the goal line once the game starts. Putting it another way — that’s not the American way to play ball.

Again, how could the USOC have made such a fundamental miscalculation?

As for Fish — he is apparently being relegated to the sidelines.

Rich Davey was not part of the bid team that presented to the USOC. Now he is the Boston 2024 chief executive.

Rich Davey, now the Boston 2024 CEO // Getty Images

Steve Pagliuca, said to be in line to be Boston 2024 chairman // Getty Images

Steve Pagliuca, the Bain Capital executive and co-owner of the Boston Celtics, was not part of the bid team. Now he is purportedly in line to become chairman of the Boston bid.

Again, you make a deal with a guy — Fish — and then five months later he seemingly has been told, thanks, dude, see you, and yet you expect everyone else from around the country who took part in the "process" to shrug and carry on as if it’s business as usual? Again, not right and not fair.

If from the get-go the USOC was determined to avoid a repeat of the New York 2012 and Chicago 2016 defeats, there’s this — bid leader Dan Doctoroff from the start was an integral part of the New York effort, bid chief Pat Ryan the same for Chicago. You can’t pin the New York or Chicago losses on either of them. Indeed, Doctoroff since March has been a member of the USOC board of directors; in 2010, the USOC gave Ryan a major award for his efforts on behalf of Chicago 2016.

Big picture:

The Boston “plan” has changed. Leadership has changed. If you think you’re buying an apple and five months later, it’s a lemon, what have you got? What word, or words, would you use to describe that situation?

The referendum conundrum

All this, and we still haven’t gotten to the most unfortunate part of this entire Boston 2024 deal.

The referendum.

No way, absolutely no way, can you expect to make this all about a referendum in November 2016 that aims toward an IOC vote the next summer for the 2024 winner.

Most likely, the referendum would pass. Fifty percent plus one is probably a no-brainer in a blue state with a Democratic candidate running for president of the United States.

Who cares?

It needs to pass by 70 percent. That’s the number the IOC wants to see to feel welcomed.

The fatal flaws here are multiple.

One, 70 percent amounts to very, very tricky math in a democratic (small-d) environment that’s not named “Los Angeles” and doesn’t enjoy the warm memories of the 1984 Olympics.

Two, if the USOC opts to stick with Boston, it guarantees all of us 14 months, from September 2015 until November 2016, of intensified, galvanized, polarized opposition to the bid. The USOC is going to be trying to run two campaigns simultaneously — one aimed at winning the referendum, the other aimed at wooing IOC members. Opponents, who have made plain they understand social media, are going to prove relentless.

If the referendum passes — be sure the opposition is hardly going to give up.

Does this sound like a winning recipe for inviting the IOC to town?

Three, Walsh has been all over the map with this. The day after Boston was chosen, he said, no referendum. Two weeks later, his office issued a statement saying he was “not in support of a referendum,” but adding, “Should the public decide to collect signatures for a referendum, that is a right of the people that the mayor fully supports.”

In March, Fish announced there would be a statewide referendum, saying the mayor along with Gov. Charlie Baker and the USOC were on board.

Now the USOC has committed itself to a strategy that is wholly dependent on the due diligence it should have rightfully done before making its choice.

Which, obviously, it could have avoided altogether by picking Los Angeles.

Disclaimer: I live in Los Angeles. This has nothing to do with what comes next.

You wonder why the USOC didn’t go the easy route — especially when the headlines this week are all about the new $250-million, privately financed, 22,000-seat soccer stadium that’s going to go up in LA at the site of the old Sports Arena, just steps away from the Coliseum, which is where the 1932 and 1984 track and field events (and ceremonies) were held, and where 2024 would have been staged, too.

That is, literally, walkability.

Who's involved with this new stadium? Magic Johnson, the Lakers icon and -- let's remember -- Dream Team 1992 Barcelona Games star. He's now a big-time LA businessman, among other things. Also: Mia Hamm, probably the best-known American female soccer player in history, with three Olympic medals, two gold.


Would there be a referendum now in LA? Who knows?

But so much stuff is getting done now in LA: that new MLS soccer stadium, the imminent arrival of at least one and probably two NFL teams, a $6 billion fundraising campaign at USC (already at $4 billion), even the New York Times touting Los Angeles as hipster central. Plus the biggest secret in LA: $40-billion in voter-approved transit investment to be rolled out over the next 20 years, adding 102 miles of rail, not road, and almost 100 new stations. Also, a 73-story hotel and office building going up downtown that will be the tallest building west of the Mississippi — directed by the very same gentleman, Y.H. Cho, who is in charge of the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea.

Plus the mayor, Eric Garcetti, is a political rock star.

Oh, and the weather.

Really. You just wonder.

The awkward position the USOC has perhaps put itself in now is ensuring that the only — the one and only — place in the entire United States that is guaranteed, absolutely guaranteed, to win a referendum big on the Olympics is Salt Lake City.

You want the Games in this country sometime soon-ish? Salt Lake City 2026. There you go.

The problem there is that the Winter Games simply are not the Summer Games. The Winter Games are great. But the Summer Games are the franchise.

To be clear about one thing: throughout these past several months, the USOC has not, repeat not, been in contact with LA. They have been in the business of giving Boston a chance.

But that time is now at a close.

The USOC’s board meeting is in late June in the Bay Area. For all concerned, it should be clear by then, if not before — like, now — that this charade of a Boston bid be put down.

Suggestions and alternatives

With all that in mind, here are some suggestions:

— The USOC has said the January vote for Boston was unanimous. Not really. The endorsement of Boston, when all was said and done, may have been unanimous. The vote was not. In the interests of transparency, make public the vote: who on the board as it was then constituted voted for Boston and who for LA. Make everyone available to explain why.

— Dump Boston 2024, at the latest by the June board meeting. Sooner, if possible. Back to rule No. 1 of politics: there are a lot of really smart people in a lot of interesting offices across the United States (and IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, and beyond) who have yet to take a close look at this turmoil and who, if they did, would assuredly wonder how and why this got to where it is.

And some alternatives:

— Admit Boston was a mistake. Be humble. They like it around Lausanne and elsewhere when Americans admit to humility. Endure one bad week, PR-wise. Commit to LA for 2024 and 2028, too, because 2024, given the beating the American brand has already taken these past five months, might already be a loss-leader.

— Or simply pull out entirely of 2024. Remember, always: Paris lost by just four votes for 2012 to London, and the IOC likes repeat bidders. In contrast to the American way, the French are going about their 2024 process by building community and political support slowly but surely, cobbling together the needed coalition.

— Salt Lake 2026. After the fiasco that is the 2022 race, it could be a slam-dunk winner. Even after the biggest corruption scandal in Olympic history, the IOC just might be all-too-tempted 24 years later to come back to Utah. That, friends, is called irony.