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Jan 9, 2015 5:58 PM

Boston, city of curmudgeons, reacts warily to Olympics bid

The Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) Organizers of Boston's bid for the 2024 Olympics say they're "wicked excited."

Ordinary Bostonians bracing for killer traffic and other headaches if the famously curmudgeonly city actually wins the Games say they're just wicked bummed.

Columnists and commuters alike took to the airwaves, the streets and social media Friday to air their grievances, deflating at least a little of Boston's bubble over beating San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington as the USOC's choice for the American bid.

Kvetching is a blood sport in Boston, a city of skeptics who seem to relish complaining about the weather, the traffic and, usually, the Red Sox. Many now fear they could be in for another Big Dig a $15 billion highway project that turned into a massive motorist migraine for a decade and a half.

"Boston's congested enough already. We do not need another bloated, corrupt sports event," said Steve Guillerm, a Cambridge accountant.

Much of the opposition appeared to have been drummed up by No Boston Olympics, a protest group demanding more of a public say in the bid. It planned to kick off a rally next week "to plan our continued opposition to Boston 2024."

Every bid for an Olympics runs into resistance. But Boston's bellyaching began even before the news conference with bid chairman John Fish was finished.

Chris Faraone of the alternative website DigBoston said he felt "like I was sitting at a funeral" as he watched Fish, Mayor Marty Walsh and other dignitaries sketch out their initial vision for the Games.

"Specifically it reminded me of my grandfather's wake, and how I wanted to throw rocks at the priest for pretending it was a positive moment," he wrote.

Thousands took to Twitter to gripe. Among them was Chuck McMahon, content manager for a website company, whose wisecrack about how "awesome" a Boston Olympics would be superimposed on a photo of an epic traffic jam was televised on NBC's "Today" show.

"Ever been to a party that's way too crowded to enjoy, the hosts don't want you there and you don't want to be there? Welcome to Boston 2024," tweeted Jon Finegold, a mobile communications executive.

Even some in officialdom reacted warily. Massachusetts' new Republican governor, Charlie Baker, reassured people that they'd have plenty of say as organizers refine their bid.

Former lieutenant governor Tim Murray, who now heads the chamber of commerce in the central city of Worcester, also expressed caution echoing naysayers who fear roads and bridges elsewhere could wind up being neglected while Boston gets spruced up.

"Public investment in the Greater Boston area infrastructure for the Boston 2024 Olympics must not come at the expense of the rest of Massachusetts," he said.

For those ebullient at the prospect of playing host to the planet's biggest sports festival, it all came across like an Olympic-sized buzz kill.

"There are so many sad things in the world," said Lesley Siegel, who lives outside Boston. "The Olympics represent the best in humanity. What an honor."


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