As the June 30 deadline approaches for a revised Boston 2024 Summer Olympics bid, the organizers are slowly unveiling new locations for venues.
Clearly, the people running Boston 2024 have to find new ways to get public support for the bid. WGBH News has learned one piece of the public-relations strategy now involves announcing, one at a time, new locations for events — both in Boston and other parts of the state.
Take today, for example, when the tennis site was moved away from Harvard to Harambee Park in Dorchester.
“We begin to roll out our 2.0 plan, which is today our very first venue announcement,” said Boston 2024 CEO Rich Davey, standing in front of Buzzards Bay in New Bedford, the new site for sailing.
“We have been listening and going out across the state, across the city of Boston, making sure that our venues were right for neighborhoods and right for communities and right for cities.”
More venues are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. This notion of “spreading the wealth” may or may not help build good will. But public policy consultant Charlie Chieppo says more significant changes must occur.
“Job one is that they have to be more transparent,” Chieppo said.
Chieppo says public dissatisfaction starts with the lack of real numbers and data released by Boston 2024.
“I think they’ve painted themselves into a corner, because of their promise that there wouldn’t be any public money involved other than transportation,” he said.
Boston 2024 organizers have held back information, saying they don’t want it to reach competitor cities.
“Of course, there are things that are proprietary in nature, and you don’t have to tell everything, but what you do tell has to be the truth," said Geri Denterlien, who runs Denterlein Communications. She says fresh leadership prompts the public to listen up, and new bid chairman Steve Pagliuca and others should emphasize how their experience with the Celtics and other Boston teams informs their direction.
“They’re very familiar with how the business of sports drives a lot of decisions with respect to the Olympics," Denterlein said. "And sometimes that concept is lost to the average person. But they also understand how the fans react. They’re very adept at understanding the fan base and the importance of animating the fan base.”
Denterlein and Chieppo have other advice for Boston 2024: Keep politicians informed — they don’t like surprises; present clear, comprehensive budgets; and choose a new selling point other than transportation improvements, Chieppo says.
"Boston 2024 is not responsible for the future of our transportation system," he said. "We are and our elected officials are."
They also suggest redirecting the conversation away from the USOC and the IOC to the public. And write the referendum now, Denterlein says.
"The aspect of the referendum that is going to be particularly difficult is how it is worded, and whether it meets the constitutional standard of whether you can have a referendum on 'Should Boston host the 2024 Olympics?' Those questions are going to be very difficult to answer, but need to be answered.”
Finally, they suggest redirecting the conversation away from national and international Olympic leaders to the public. Explain in "plain English" how people will be affected by having the games here. Show that they’re listening to concerns. After all, Boston 2024 says the public will ultimately decide whether to host the games.