The Boston Olympics bid for the 2024 Summer Games has ended after city leaders failed to guarantee the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) that it would be held responsible for the inevitable cost overages, as Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker refused to place that burden on taxpayers.
Meanwhile down south on Interstate 95, Joseph Graziano has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for running BetEagle.com, an online sportsbook with direct ties to the mob.
According to federal prosecutors and Graziano’s guilty plea, the 78-year-old Springfield, New Jersey, resident’s multi-million-dollar gambling ring was under the supervision of the notorious Genovese crime family.
Boston had beat out Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington DC for the right to bid on the Olympics games, promising USOC it wouldn’t build new infrastructure as so many host cities have done in the past but rely on its already-present stadiums and local universities for venues and housing.
But after the mayor and governor’s independent budget analysis concluded the expense couldn’t possibly be fully funded by USOC and the Olympic organization demanded a guarantee freeing itself of those costs, the agreement was terminated. “We were excited about the possibility,” Scott Blackmun, USOC chief executive said.
But the lack of enthusiasm among residents, reported to be at just 40 percent, led Blackmun to conclude, “The USOC does not think that the level of support enjoyed by Boston’s bid would allow it to prevail over great bids from Paris, Rome, Hamburg, Budapest or Toronto.”
The majority of Bostonians released a collected sigh of relief, a city that only recently sentenced marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death. Residents wishing to be free of the perpetual fear of terrorism that goes along with hosting the Olympics in today’s modern world is not only understandable, but also justifiable.
Whether the threat of terrorism was indeed the culprit that led to the public’s unfavorable stance on the bid isn’t precisely clear, but one fact is for certain; hosting the Olympics isn’t an economically sound decision.
China spent $40 billion on the Summer Games, Russia $51 billion for the Sochi winter contest, and Chicago spent $100 million on its 2016 bid alone.
However, after the tourists, media, and athletes depart, these countries are stuck with mammoth venues like the Beijing National Stadium, aka “The Bird’s Nest,” a building that costs millions of dollars a year simply to maintain.
Oxford economists Bent Flyvbjerg and Allison Stewart opined after studying both the summer and winter games between 1960 and 2012, “For a city and nation to decide to host the Olympic Games is to take on one of the most financially risky type of mega-project that exists.”
While Boston wasn’t ready to take on the risk associated with the Olympics, many a sports bettor in New York and New Jersey accepted the inherent danger of dealing with underground bookie Joseph Graziano.
This week in a Newark court, Graziano and Dominick Barone, 45, were each sentenced to 18 months in prison for managing an offshore website based in Costa Rica, and then using mob affiliates to pressure bettors into paying up.
The website acted as a facilitator, as bets were placed and scheduled online but accepted and paid in person. If the person didn’t pony up, threats were made.
In one surveillance tape a gangster can be overheard telling an informant for the US Attorney’s Office, “The only thing you can do is pay the money.”
In addition to Graziano and Barone, charges are pending against Joseph Lascala, a known member of the Genovese family who is allegedly the kingpin of the sports betting operation.
No Boston Olympics, and one less illegal sports betting ring; many would consider that a win-win.