Is it heresy to say that the Olympics could be good for Boston?

According to various news articles, everyone in the Boston area is against the Olympics. Although I’m sure that it will be a waste of $ billions I am in favor of us hosting the games and I think we can get more out of them than most other U.S. cities.

What’s special about Boston? We are much more prone to endless argument, studies, debate, and lawsuits than a typical American city. In the time that it would take the Chinese to build four ring highways around a city, Boston can only get about halfway through the litigation about adding a short extra runway at Logan Airport (it was a 30-year process to add Runway 14-32 (a little history) and then litigation continued after completion (e.g., this lawsuit against the FAA)).

Generally civic approval processes in Massachusetts work under the assumption that time is meaningless and money is infinite. With a hard deadline of 2024 people would be forced to make decisions, clear away obstacles, and forgo “let’s do some more study” or “let’s have another lawsuit” conclusions to meetings.

There is no question that at least half of the money spent will be wasted. But that’s true of much that state and local governments do. The difference with the Olympics is that at least something would get done, e.g., completion of various T extensions.

What do readers think? Is hosting an Olympics sensible for a city that otherwise typically ties itself up with NIMBY fights?

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

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