John Fish Out, Steve Pagliuca In as Boston Olympics Chairman

Celtics co-owner takes over the beleaguered Boston 2024.

John Fish is out as chairman of Boston 2024, and Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca is in. Boston’s beleaguered Olympic effort—which may be running out of time to reverse its fortunes—is betting on a leadership change. Its board of directors approved the switch—widely rumored for the past couple weeks—at a meeting this afternoon, according to a statement from the group.

Fish, the CEO of Suffolk Construction and the most powerful man in Boston, couldn’t convince a majority of Bostonians to embrace the Olympics. In the 4½ months since the U.S. Olympic Committee chose Boston as a host city, Fish has led the bid effort to a near-collapse. Now he’s stepping aside in favor of Pagliuca—a move Fish and Boston 2024 are portraying as voluntary.

“I recruited Steve Pagliuca because of the sports expertise and leadership he brings to the bid,” said Fish. “I will continue to serve as a vice chairman and do everything I can on behalf of the bid.”

Pagliuca is a different type of leader than Fish: less salesmanship, more skeptical attention to numbers and knowledge of the business of sports. (Though not everyone is thrilled.) Those skills will be key as Gov. Charlie Baker and others insist on seeing updated, more detailed venue plan from Boston 2024 by June. Fish, as a vice-chair, is expected to focus on fundraising, tapping his credibility among elite circles.

Still, the change is Fish’s most significant public defeat in his career. What happened? For the story behind today’s leadership change, read my new profile of John Fish, “Flame Out,” in the June issue of Boston Magazine and online now.