Rep. Capuano wants more Olympics info

Local U.S. Rep. Mike Capuano said he would love for Boston to host the Olympics. But, the congressman says, he wants to make sure taxpayers’ money is protected and he has not been assured of that by Boston 2024.

“I’m not yet satisfied with the numbers they have put out,” he said in a phone interview. “I don’t know whether it is a lack of transparency or a matter of them dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s.”

When the Gazette asked why he would love to see Boston host the Olympics, he responded by asking, “Who doesn’t love the Olympics?” He compared the sporting event to, among other things, motherhood and apple pie.

“I’m not for or against the Olympics, per se,” said Capuano.

The Gazette said that many people in Jamaica Plain are against Franklin Park hosting Olympics events. Capuano said he does not know why they oppose it, but that it’s “a couple weeks of discomfort” and that it “should be mitigated as much as possible.”

Asked when he would like to see the more detailed numbers for the bid, Capuano quipped, “Several months ago.”

He added, “the sooner, the better” and that the “clock is ticking.” He said he wants them soon because he needs to verify the numbers with people who are more qualified than him, such as construction specialists.

He said Boston 2024 is saying that it will cost $175 million for a temporary Olympic stadium, but he has “never heard such a number” for a stadium being built. Capuano said he suspects it will be more than $175 million and less than $2 billion. He noted that Japan had just cancelled its original Olympic stadium plan for 2020 because costs ballooned to more than $2 billion.

“I would like to see some numbers to back that up,” Capuano said about Boston 2024’s $175 million stadium.

Capuano said Boston 2024 officials have been “real polite,” but that he has not gotten the details. He added that public meetings don’t really help without details.

The representative said he supports federal money for security for the Olympics, as he would for Atlanta, Houston or any other place. He said that that amount will be determined by the U.S. Secret Service and thinks it would be approved by Congress. He said he does not support federal tax money going to anything else for the Olympics.

Capuano said as a Massachusetts taxpayer, he does not want to see any state money go to the Olympics. But, he said, that is up to the state legislature and the governor to determine.

“I won’t be going to a single Olympic event,” said Capuano. “I’ll be on my couch watching it on TV. I might leave town for a few days.”

When the Gazette noted that not everyone can leave the city during the Olympics, such as hourly wage-earners, he said that should be taken into account and that “nobody should be forced out of earning a living.”

As for traffic concerns, Capuano said that “traffic is always a problem” and it is usually lighter in the summer.

“No worse than a storm in the middle of January,” he said about the potential traffic during the Olympics.

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