By Eddie Pells ,AP
DENVER, Colorado – The Olympic rings flying over Fenway Park? Could happen.
U.S. Olympic leaders surprisingly cast their future with Boston on Thursday, hoping a compact, college-centric bid with a touching story to tell will overshadow the city’s well-organized protest group and convince international voters to bring the Summer Games to America after a 28-year gap.
During a daylong meeting at the Denver airport, USOC board members chose Boston, with its promise of frugality, reusable venues and inspiration after its comeback from the marathon bombings, over Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington.
��Today’s selection by the USOC is the beginning of an incredible opportunity for Boston,�� said the city’s bid chairman, John Fish, who will be part of a celebratory news conference Friday with the USOC leadership.
Boston joins Rome as the only other city that has officially decided to bid. Germany will submit either Hamburg or Berlin, with France and Hungary among those also considering bids. The International Olympic Committee will award the Games in 2017.
America’s last two attempts to land the Games resulted in embarrassments �X fourth-place finishes for New York (2012) and Chicago (2016).
The selection of one of the country’s most history-steeped cities comes as something of a shock to insiders, who viewed two-time host Los Angeles as the safest choice and San Francisco as the sexiest. But a compact bid highlighted by a frugal spending plan �X along with Boston’s energetic leadership team led by Fish, the construction magnate �X outweighed doubts that surfaced because of the city’s organized protest group and less-than-perfect history in delivering big projects like the Big Dig.
Fenway Park and its Green Monster would be part of the plan. The Boston Marathon course probably wouldn’t: Too downhill. But chances are there will be subtle references to the 2013 bombings near the finish line that killed three people �X a touching way to show how a city can pull together.
��The city has taught all of us what it means to be Boston Strong,�� the White House said in a statement. ��The President and First Lady couldn’t be prouder of this accomplishment and of all of our nation’s athletes, and strongly support the effort to bring the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games to the United States.��