L.A. of­fi­cials agree to host 2028 Olympics

In a fi­nan­cial ar­range­ment ‘too good to pass up,’ the city brings the Sum­mer Games back to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia for the third time

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By David Whar­ton

Af­ter weeks of in­tense ne­go­ti­a­tions with the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee, Los An­ge­les of­fi­cials have agreed to host the Sum­mer Games in 2028 — in­stead of 2024 — in re­turn for a deal they hope will gen­er­ate hun­dreds of mil­lions in ad­di­tional sav­ings and rev­enues.

The ar­range­ment, which lets Paris go first with the 2024 Games, will bring the world’s largest sport­ing event back to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia for a third time.

It could also set a prece­dent as the IOC made con­ces­sions to L.A. that in­volved spon­sor­ship sales, the re­ten­tion of any po­ten­tial sur­plus and up­front fund­ing for youth sports pro­grams through­out the city.

“This deal was too good to pass up,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said dur­ing a late Mon­day af­ter­noon news con­fer­ence at StubHub Cen-

in Car­son.

Ini­tial re­ac­tion to Mon­day’s an­nounce­ment was mixed.

An­drew Zim­bal­ist, an econ­o­mist at Smith Col­lege in Mas­sachusetts and fre­quent critic of the Olympic move­ment, be­lieved L.A. of­fi­cials “played their cards right.”

“They’ve got­ten a bunch of con­ces­sions that are sig­nif­i­cant,” Zim­bal­ist said.

Oth­ers ques­tioned whether Garcetti and lo­cal bid of­fi­cials could have bar­gained for more, and whether the pub­lic should have been given a voice in the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“I won­der if this was a missed op­por­tu­nity for more in­put,” said Jules Boykoff, who teaches po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at Pa­cific Univer­sity in Ore­gon and has stud­ied pre­vi­ous Games. “What did peo­ple want them to ask for?”

The re­sponse was more en­thu­si­as­tic from sev­eral Los An­ge­les City Coun­cil mem­bers in at­ten­dance at the news con­fer­ence and from the White House.

“For the first time in a gen­er­a­tion, the Olympics are com­ing back to the United States,” Pres­i­dent Trump said in a state­ment.

Talks fo­cused on four ma­jor is­sues, be­gin­ning with cor­po­rate dol­lars.

The IOC has es­ti­mated it will con­trib­ute $1.7 bil­lion of its broad­cast and spon­sor­ship rev­enues to Paris 2024 or­ga­niz­ers. L.A. sought a dif­fer­ent ar­range­ment that could boost its share to $2 bil­lion or more in 2028.

Un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stances, host cities be­gin prepa­ra­tions seven years in ad­vance but do not re­ceive most of the IOC con­tri­bu­tions un­til two years be­fore the Games.

For 2028, the IOC has agreed to give L.A. a $180mil­lion ad­vance that would cover the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee’s costs for an ex­tra four years and pump as much as $160 mil­lion into youth sports in the city.

In Olympic cir­cles, such pub­lic ben­e­fits are re­ferred to as “legacy” and usu­ally oc­cur only af­ter the Games have fin­ished and left town. Garcetti pre­dicted that youth pro­grams could see IOC fund­ing next year.

“I want some­thing for the peo­ple of L.A. now,” the mayor said. “I want the ex­cite­ment to build.”

Olympic of­fi­cials also waived var­i­ous pay­ments that could ul­ti­mately save L.A. tens of mil­lions, but lo­cal bid lead­ers seemed most en­thu­si­as­tic about a po­ten­tial post-Games ben­e­fit.

Their $5.3-bil­lion bid es­ti­mate in­cludes a $487.6-mil­lion con­tin­gency — money that would be set aside to pay for cost over­runs that have plagued re­cent Games, leav­ing hosts with sub­stan­tial deficits.

If the Games fin­ish at or un­der bud­get, the $487-mil­ter lion con­tin­gency would con­vert to a sur­plus — sim­i­lar to the one left by the 1984 Los An­ge­les Games — and L.A. of­fi­cials have struck a deal to keep most of that money.

The United States Olympic Com­mit­tee would still take 20% of any sur­plus, but with the IOC waiv­ing its cus­tom­ary 20%, the city could re­al­ize $100 mil­lion or more.

The chance of a sur­plus is higher than usual be­cause L.A. will not have to spend bil­lions in con­struc­tion costs by us­ing ex­ist­ing venues such as Staples Cen­ter, Pauley Pav­il­ion and the Coli­seum. Fur­ther sav­ings would arise from hous­ing ath­letes and the me­dia at UCLA and USC rather than build­ing ex­pen­sive vil­lages.

This week ends a tu­mul­tuous two years for the can­di­date cities and Olympic lead­ers.

USOC board mem­bers orig­i­nally chose Boston as the U.S. bid­der in 2015, but L.A. got back into the pic­ture eight months later when pub­lic op­po­si­tion forced the Mas­sachusetts cap­i­tal to with­draw.

As other can­di­dates around the world backed off, only L.A. and Paris were left to bid for 2024. The IOC de­cided that, with two ea­ger can­di­dates in hand, it would name two win­ners.

Paris pushed back against the idea, but L.A. bid lead­ers ex­pressed a will­ing­ness to talk. They knew the race with Paris would be close and that the U.S. had fallen short in sev­eral re­cent at­tempts to win the Sum­mer Games.

Ne­go­ti­a­tions with the IOC picked up over the last few weeks.

“It has been cer­tainly a roller coaster,” said L.A. bid chair­man Casey Wasser­man, ad­ding that IOC of­fi­cials “showed a real will­ing­ness to be thought­ful and creative.”

Still, com­mit­ting to the Games more than a decade in ad­vance comes with con­sid­er­able risk. Pol­i­tics and economies can make huge shifts over that time. The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games served as an ex­am­ple — a slump in the Brazil­ian econ­omy, which had been boom­ing a few years ear­lier, forced or­ga­niz­ers to make last-minute cut­backs.

L.A. bid lead­ers will have to rene­go­ti­ate con­tracts with venues through­out the city and ad­just its agree­ment with the City Coun­cil, which voted to sup­port the 2024 bid.

“We will vet the pro­posal,” coun­cil Pres­i­dent Herb Wesson said. “We’ll scrub it, scrub it and re-scrub it.”

That process will be­gin with an ad hoc com­mit­tee meet­ing Fri­day. De­spite his prom­ise of scru­tiny, Wesson said he hopes to present a rec­om­men­da­tion to the full coun­cil next week and win quick ap­proval.

NO­lympics, the most vo­cal coali­tion op­pos­ing the Games, called the de­ci­sion “a com­plete mis­car­riage of any­thing re­motely re­sem­bling democ­racy.”

At Mon­day’s news con­fer­ence, Garcetti and Wasser­man fo­cused on the ben­e­fits of wait­ing four ad­di­tional years.

The Cren­shaw/LAX Line, the Pur­ple Line Ex­ten­sion and down­town’s Re­gional Con­nec­tor, which will al­low pas­sen­gers to trans­fer to sev­eral lines, are sched­uled to be fin­ished by 2024, a Metro spokesman said.

Im­prove­ments to Los An­ge­les In­ter­na­tional Air­port could also be done.

In the mean­time, L.A.’s deal faces a few more hur­dles. In ad­di­tion to coun­cil vet­ting, it must be ap­proved by the USOC. The deal may also have to be looked at by state leg­is­la­tors, who pre­vi­ously ap­proved fi­nan­cial back­stops. IOC mem­bers must vote their ap­proval at a mid-Septem­ber meet­ing, at which point city of­fi­cials would fi­nal­ize the ar­range­ment by sign­ing the re­vised host city con­tract.

Mel Mel­con Los An­ge­les Times

THE LOS AN­GE­LES Me­mo­rial Coli­seum was the site of events at the 1932 and 1984 Sum­mer Olympic Games. Af­ter weeks of in­tense ne­go­ti­a­tions with the IOC, the city has agreed to host the 2028 Games.

Allen J. Sch­aben Los An­ge­les Times

MAYOR Eric Garcetti, right, and L.A. bid chair­man Casey Wasser­man ap­plaud the deal at a news con­fer­ence. Garcetti pre­dicted that youth pro­grams could see IOC fund­ing next year. “I want the ex­cite­ment to build,” he said.

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