Harvard, Boston Eye 2008 Olympics

Harvard could be the nucleus of the 2008 Summer Olympic village if a group of Boston community leaders succeeds in bringing the Games to the area, University officials said yesterday.

Harvard's role would probably be "limited" to housing some of the expected 10,000 athletes and making Soldier's Field available for events, University spokesperson Joe Wrinn said yesterday.

Although the city will probably not file an application until 1997, the group leading the initiative is already investigating whether hosting the Olympics 14 years from now is feasible.

"The whole community must be involved in order for this to work," said Associate Vice President for University Relations John P. Reardon '60. "Harvard is a member of this community. There is no way it wouldn't be involved."

A group led by Boston resident Steven Fryer and Fleet Bank president John Hammill has taken charge of the push for the Games, Reardon said. The group's primary concerns right now are building public support and dealing with preliminary logistics.

"Does it make sense? Can it be done and can it pay for itself?" Reardon said. "Memorial Drive and Storrow Drive would probably be closed down for three weeks."

The Boston area may have to add new athletic facilities if it wants to attract the Games. Sites all over New England, but centralized in Boston, could be used.

Boston's chances in 2008 could depend on whether Utah gets the nod for the 2006 Winter Olympics. "That could really hurt our chances," Reardon said.

The committee has already had an informal lunch meeting with Gerhald Heiberg, head of the Lillehammer Olympics, and Charles Brattle, head of the 1996 Atlanta summer games.