Mayor Walsh: ‘Zero Tolerance for Spending Taxpayers’ Money for Building Stadiums’

In an interview with WEEI's Dennis & Callahan, Mayor Marty Walsh responded to questions raised by our report on Boston 2024's bid book.

Photo via AP

Photo via AP

Mayor Marty Walsh joined WEEI’s morning-drive program Dennis & Callahan Thursday to discuss the current state of the bid to bring the Summer Olympics to Boston, following Boston’s publication of Boston 2024’s “highly confidential” bid book submitted to the United States Olympic Committee in December.

“It’s based on a concept. The final bid that will be put in, which would be in December or January, that’s going to be an actual plan for what’s going to be put forth,” Walsh said. “And in that actual plan, it’s going to have to spell out how you actually pay for the venues, and where the venues are going to be located, and how the financing would work. But what I’ve said consistently through the whole process: I am not using taxpayers’ money to build venues.”

Walsh said he instead will use tax incentives to foster private development. When co-host Kirk Minihane asked if the bid book was merely a “pretend document,” Walsh echoed Boston 2024 Vice President Erin Murphy, later calling it a “concept plan.”

Murphy said in a statement Wednesday evening:

The preliminary bid book filed in December was a proof of concept per the USOC’s initial bidding process. We stand by our commitment that the operations of the Games and the building of venues will be privately funded. Many elements contained in those preliminary documents have already changed and some will continue to change as the bid evolves. Our ongoing community engagement process is helping shape the next phase of our plans and bringing us much closer to a preliminary Games concept that reflects the reforms of Olympic Agenda 2020 and the city’s 2030 planning. This planning is progressing well and we’re on track to release the next phase of our Games concept by June 30.

As detailed in our report and further expanded on by WCVB’s Janet Wu and the Boston Business Journal, Boston 2024 told the USOC that it plans to finance two-thirds of its 60,000-seat Olympic Stadium in Widett Circle using taxpayer bonds. The bid book also notes a need for a public authority to cover land acquisition costs.

“Tax incentives…could be used here, but not for the Olympics, but for what happens before the Olympics and what happens after the Olympics, as far as the development of a site,” Walsh said, adding, “I have zero tolerance for spending taxpayers’ money for building stadiums or building venues for the Olympics.”

“There’s no spin here. There’s no spin here. I don’t know what Rich Davey said on the radio, but I know for a fact, because I am the mayor of the City of Boston and it’s my signature that goes on this document, I am not using taxpayers’ money to build stadiums.”

“Not one dollar of taxpayer money?” Minihane said.

“It’s my signature going on there. I am not using anything on my capital budget,” Walsh said.

You can listen to the entire segment below: