EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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December 22, 2013

An Olympic effort

With discussions are under way in the Massachusetts Statehouse on the possibility of submitting a bid to lure the 2024 Summer Olympics to Greater Boston, some movers and shakers are beginning to wonder what events could be hosted north of Boston.

What about a triathlon starting at Lake Cochichewick in North Andover, following Route 133 through Ipswich into Gloucester and ending with a run to the base of Bearskin Neck in Rockport?

Could there be rowing or kayaking events on the Merrimack River?

How about equestrian events in Hamilton and beach volleyball in Salisbury?

Wide beaches, miles of rural roadways, a sailing culture, a large river and several facilities and arenas just 20 to 30 miles from Boston put all of Essex County directly into the sporting and diversion mix, area officials said when asked about the possibilities.

“I think people would be making a mistake if they overlooked our region and state for this,” said state Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester. “We have a lot to offer.”

Many of the major arena sporting events would happen in Boston or Foxborough. But smaller events could be held at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell, on the Merrimack River or along the beaches in Salisbury, on Plum Island and on Cape Ann. Lawrence’s Veteran’s Memorial Stadium is one of the state’s largest open-air stadiums.

“The Merrimack would be conducive to both rowing and canoeing activities for sure,” state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport said. “Horseback riding and equestrian activities are popular throughout the valley. And I think that visitors would find the restaurants and the cultural amenities a bonus.”

Scenic rural roads in Boxford, Georgetown, Topsfield, Rowley and other small towns could host triathlon, road race and cycling events.

“The bicycling portion of it, the terrain and byways up here would lend themselves in the rural areas to bicycling competition,” state Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, D-Methuen, said.

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