Olympic organizers from Atlanta, London, and Salt Lake City shared their expertise at a breakfast symposium before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. They spoke enthusiastically about Boston 2024 but also talked about some of the hurdles they faced with their own bids. 

A crowd of about 175 Boston business leaders filled a ballroom at the Ritz Carleton, listening to conversation we don’t often hear about the Olympics — how other host cities fared.

“All of the Olympic facilities that we built were something that we either needed or could adapt to another use and have become part of the fabric of our community,” said Charlie Battle, who directed International Relations for the Atlanta Committee for the 1996 Olympic Games. He believes private funding and cost control are possible for Boston 2024, especially as the International Olympic Committee changes its priorities.

“There used to be a lot of pressure to do everything bigger and better and more expensive,”said Battle. “And there’s now much more of an understanding and a desire to work with the community, to work with the city and find out what makes sense for you.”

The international Agenda 2020, aims for less extravagant, more eco-friendly Games is new, but what isn’t new is opposition and apprehension about hosting. Colin Hilton, CEO of Utah’s Olympic Legacy Foundation, says their 2002 Winter Games bid also faced a ballot referendum. Voters set a limit of $59 million in taxpayer spending on permanent Olympic venues.

Said Hilton, “They put a caveat. They said well, if Games ever come then those moneys would be paid back. And this was way before the bid phase.”

As many as 13 years before hosting the Olympics Utah held a referendum, then built venues that are still used for winter sports training. In contrast, Boston 2024 has yet to have the voters weigh in. Finally, more recent experience came from Anna Clunes, who worked in communications and engagement for the London Games.

“Clearly.” Said Clunes, “this is a significant investment of public funds in the UK. In the end we funded more from public route than private, because of the timing, which came at the time of the 2007-8 financial crisis. But I agree about the need for the finance to be managed very well. In the end that was the case in the UK.”

Clunes also emphasized how much security has changed and tightened with each Olympics, the logistics and cost of which would be covered at the federal level in the US. Overall, it’s clear that with so much to consider, Boston 2024 benefits from consulting with those who ran operations on the ground in other host cities.