“Dempsey and Zimbalist review how a group of concerned citizens drove the Olympics from Boston, and offer other cities reasons and strategies for doing the same.”—Publishers Weekly
A play-by-play account of how No Boston Olympics rallied Massachusetts residents to reject an Olympic bid
In 2013 and 2014, some of Massachusetts’ wealthiest and most powerful individuals hatched an audacious plan to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to Boston. Like their counterparts in cities around the world, Boston’s Olympic boosters promised political leaders, taxpayers, and the media that the Games would deliver incalculable benefits and require little financial support from the public. Yet these advocates refused to share the details of their bid and only grudgingly admitted, when pressed, that their plan called for billions of dollars in construction of unneeded venues. To win the bid, the public would have to guarantee taxpayer funds to cover cost overruns, which have plagued all modern Olympic Games. The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) chose Boston 2024’s bid over that of other American cities in January 2015—and for a time it seemed inevitable that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would award the Games to Boston 2024.
No Boston Olympics is the story of how an ad hoc, underfunded group of diverse and engaged citizens joined together to challenge and ultimately derail Boston’s boosters, the USOC, and the IOC. Chris Dempsey was cochair of No Boston Olympics, the group that first voiced skepticism, demanded accountability, and catalyzed dissent. Andrew Zimbalist is a world expert on the economics of sports, and the leading researcher on the hidden costs of hosting mega-events such as the Olympics and the World Cup. Together, they tell Boston’s story, while providing a blueprint for citizens who seek to challenge costly, wasteful, disruptive, and risky Olympic bids in their own cities.
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Reviews / Endorsements
“No Boston Olympics serves a larger purpose than storytelling. It is a primer on how an alert, educated, energetic group of citizens can challenge the plans, the arrogance, the misrepresentations and the power of wealthy businesspeople and politicians. The people opposing the Boston Olympic bid demonstrated that real information could triumph over the empty promises of a group of people determined to enhance their own power, wealth and prestige while sticking the public with the bill.”
—Bill Littlefield, WBUR
“A story of how a scrappy grassroots movement beat a strapping, well-armed initiative.”
—Pomona College Magazine
“The book provides a generalizable warning for government officials and a blueprint for those hell-bent on political or social change.”
“No Boston Olympics and its authors demonstrate that facts plus argument plus organization are potent enough to stop the Olympic juggernaut. Think what else they still might do. . . . This is real populism.”
—David Goldblatt, author of The Games: A Global History of the Olympic
“In October 2004, Bostonians felt they had witnessed an upset for the ages when the Red Sox came from three games down to beat the Yankees and win a World Series. But the fact that common sense, a clear vision of sensible urban policy, and a small, determined, dedicated, and well-informed group of young men and women helped defeat a power-brokered boardroom plan to bring the Olympics to Boston was just as huge an upset. . . . And No Boston Olympics: How and Why Smart Cities Are Passing on the Torch shows that it was just as meaningful, too.”—Mike Barnicle, MSNBC Morning Joe contributor
“A comprehensive chronicling of Boston’s aborted bid for the Games—and a cautionary tale for other cities with five-ring fantasies.”—John Powers, Boston Globe correspondent
CHRIS DEMPSEY is a former Bain & Co. consultant and former Massachusetts assistant secretary of transportation, and was a cofounder and leader of No Boston Olympics. ANDREW ZIMBALIST is the Robert A. Woods Professor of Economics at Smith College. He is the author of many books, including Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble behind Hosting the Olympics and World Cup and May the Best Team Win: Baseball Economics and Public Policy, and coauthor of The Sabermetric Revolution: Assessing the Growth of Analytics in Baseball and others.