Problem, research strategy, and findings: Several cities have canceled their Olympic bids in recent years because of local protests and referenda. Bidding cities now face a new political reality as they debate whether a bid is in the best interests of local stakeholders. We present a case study of Boston's (MA) ultimately unsuccessful bid to be the U.S. city selected to host the 2024 Olympic Games. Boston 2024, a nonprofit organization, prepared 2 sequential bids. We ask whether, how, and why Boston 2024 changed its planning approach from the 1st to the 2nd bid to respond to significant protests over its failure to meaningfully involve stakeholders, identify specific legacies, and provide accurate cost details. Our findings are limited by our focus on a single case, the small number of interviewees, and the constraints of ethnographic work. Boston 2024 shifted from an elite-driven process to a more inclusive one, from making generic claims about the impact of hosting the Games to describing local legacies, and from opaque budgets to transparent ones. Boston 2024 did not involve city planners in meaningful ways or engage fully with opponents. These changes were thus not sufficient to overcome substantial local distrust and opposition.
Takeaway for practice: Cities considering mega-event bids should encourage a fully participatory planning process that provides genuine local legacies and is transparent about costs and who will bear overruns. City planners would contribute significantly to bid planning that meets these objectives. Cities should also pressure Olympic organizations to make supportive changes in their selection requirements.