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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Where does UMass Boston fit into the 2024 Olympic bid?

A+rendering+of+the+proposed+Olympic+Stadium%2C+which+would+be+built+at+Widett+Circle
A rendering of the proposed Olympic Stadium, which would be built at Widett Circle

Earlier this month, the United States Olympic Committee selected Boston as its bid for the 2024 Summer Games, and while the International Olympic Committee won’t decide on a host city until 2017, there is still an immense amount of planning that will have to go into the bid. Aside from the obvious things like where to put rowing and table tennis, there are other issues, like where to house the athletes. That’s where the University of Massachusetts Boston comes in. Part of the Boston bid involves using the Bayside Property as a potential spot for an athletes’ village.
The property, which UMass Boston acquired in 2010, is now primarily used for parking, but there have been numerous ideas as to what to do with the site long term. There have been multiple media reports suggesting the Boston 2024 bid could involve local colleges housing the athletes, including UMass Boston. For students, UMass Boston’s involvement could potentially mean many different things ranging from the construction of dorms on the site to the campus receiving transportation upgrades. Nothing has been set and the plan is still in its infancy but it’s clear that the university is involved.
Chancellor J. Keith Motley sent an email to the student body confirming that he was part of a delegation that went with Mayor Martin J. Walsh to California to make a presentation about Boston’s merits to host the games, and he is expecting to be a major player in the bidding process. “I look forward to being a voice at the table as a final proposal is developed,” Motley wrote.
Plans are still in the infancy for the bid as a whole, including how the Bayside property may or may not be used, but it’s likely that—if Boston were to be selected—the property would be used in concurrence with other area colleges to house the thousands of athletes that descend upon a city when they host the Olympics. If the site is used, there would almost certainly be improvements made to both the roads surrounding the property and the MBTA sites nearby.
According to DeWayne Lehman, the head of communication at UMass Boston, the site’s future is not set in stone.
“The future use of the site is yet to be fully determined,” Lehman said. “There have been a number of suggestions for the site. In 2011 there was a series of meetings with the community which generated ideas. Those have been taken under advisement and we haven’t determined an exact use yet.”
Obviously, UMass Boston’s contributions would just be a cog in the machine for the monumental task of hosting the Olympic Games, but Chancellor Motley is hopeful that the university’s involvement could lead to campus improvements.
“The redevelopment of the Bayside property is a crucial component of our ongoing campus transformation,” he wrote. “As we move forward, we will look for opportunities that allow us to contribute to the Olympic effort while also advancing the development of the university’s physical amenities.”
Lehman said that he has not heard any push-back from students so far about the plans but added that may be because most of the reports have been over winter break with a limited amount of students on campus. He echoed Chancellor Motley’s email, which included a link to where students can find a schedule of public meetings regarding the bid.
“I think it’s really too early to tell (about students’ thoughts on the bid),” Lehman said. “I think, as a college campus, we’ll have a number of discussions as we always do on issues that affect the university. We look forward to hearing feedback and ideas.”
The IOC will decide on the host city for the 2024 Games in 2017 and Boston will face very stiff competition from the likes of Rome and Berlin. The bid also has faced some criticism lately for possibly relying on cities like New York to host some events. Locally, opinions on the bid have been mixed, with some locals endorsing it wholeheartedly and others voicing concerns about the disruptions construction will cause and the billions of dollars that will have to be spent on the games.
Regardless, Chancellor Motley made sure to note what his top priority is when it comes to UMass Boston and the bid.
“I am happy that our university will be part of a conversation about how we can contribute,” Motley wrote. “And will always be mindful that our involvement must, first and foremost, further our long-term academic objectives.”
For more information on the bid, visit www.2024boston.org.