The news is ex­cit­ing, but can L.A. main­tain that feel­ing for 11 years?

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Bill Plaschke

It’s won­der­ful. And it’s weird.

The Sum­mer Olympics are com­ing back to Los An­ge­les, the world’s premier sport­ing event fi­nally re­turn­ing to the world’s great­est sport­ing city.

But we’re go­ing to have to wait 11 years?

It’s a match coated in gold, the di­verse beauty of the Olympics spend­ing more than two weeks across a won­der­fully di­verse L.A. sports land­scape that has been built on the an­cient ideals of faster, higher and stronger.

But the open­ing cer­e­mony isn’t hap­pen­ing for more than a decade?

The an­nounce­ment Mon­day that L.A. of­fi­cials have cut an un­prece­dented deal with the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee to host the 2028 Games were greeted with equal bits smil­ing and head scratch­ing.

This is go­ing to be re­ally cool. For the thou­sands of An­ge­lenos who will be part of the Games as fans or vol­un­teers, this will pro­duce mem­o­ries that will last for­ever. Have you ever spo­ken to any­one who at­tended or was in­volved in the 1984 Games here? Even now, they can’t stop talk­ing about it.

But as for the 2028 Games, it feels way too early

to even start talk­ing about it. The ad­vance no­tice for Olympic bids is tra­di­tion­ally seven years. That wait is man­age­able. This wait is al­most un­fath­omable.

“To all our ath­letes, give ’em hell,” shouted Herb Wesson, L.A. City Coun­cil pres­i­dent, at Mon­day’s news con­fer­ence at StubHub Cen­ter.

You know he was talk­ing to, like, 10-year-olds, right?

That’s the ap­prox­i­mate cur­rent age of many who will com­pete in the 2028 Games. That’s how long we have to wait. That’s how strange this all feels.

By 2028, we will have al­ready hosted a Su­per Bowl in a sta­dium that has not yet been built, and pos­si­bly a World Cup even though it has not yet been awarded.

Lonzo Ball could be en­ter­ing his 11th sea­son in the NBA. Sam Darnold could be in his 10th sea­son in the NFL. Clayton Ker­shaw will be 40.

Who knows what the city’s eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion will look like? Who knows who will be in charge? Given all the con­flict through­out the world, who knows if there will even be an Olympics?

The only thing that won’t change is that the Dodgers prob­a­bly still won’t be on tele­vi­sion.

In a town where trends shift in 11 min­utes, it’s im­pos­si­ble to imag­ine any­one will be hyped for these Olympics for 11 years. But the later date al­lowed L.A. bid of­fi­cials, led by the sharp Casey Wasser­man, to ac­tu­ally win a ne­go­ti­a­tion with the un­con­scionably greedy and in­sti­tu­tion­ally cor­rupt IOC.

It might be worth the 11 years just to watch the IOC squirm.

L.A. and Paris were ini­tially com­pet­ing for 2024, with the an­nounce­ment com­ing this Septem­ber. But the IOC wanted them both, be­cause there are few re­main­ing places on Earth that will bid for the eco­nomic ruin that the Olympics of­ten in­flict.

When Paris in­sisted on 2024, L.A. agreed to wait un­til 2028 if the IOC would pony up hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in ad­vance pay­ments and other perks. The IOC caved be­cause, let’s face it, the IOC is lucky that a per­fect po­ten­tial host like L.A., a two-time Olympic vet­eran, was even bid­ding.

So, even though the Games are go­ing to cost $5.3 bil­lion in mostly pri­vate funds, L.A. could end up receiving nearly $2 bil­lion from the IOC, with some of that money com­ing in ad­vance pay­ments that are usu­ally made af­ter the Games. This in­cludes around $160 mil­lion for youth sports pro­grams lead­ing up to the Games, a huge ben­e­fit that will af­fect count­less neigh­bor­hoods in com­ing years.

There was no fi­nan­cial ruin in 1984, only a tremen­dous sur­plus in the most eco­nom­i­cally suc­cess­ful Olympics ever. That is what is be­ing fore­cast here for 2028, mostly be­cause we are ready to host the darn thing right now.

Se­ri­ously, un­like in other cities, we don’t need to hastily con­struct any venues that will col­lapse in a heap of sad dust the mo­ment the Games leave town. No ma­jor fa­cil­i­ties need to be built. We have sta­di­ums and are­nas and even the UCLA dorms to house Olympic ath­letes. The 11-year wait also gives the city a chance to fin­ish sev­eral sub­way lines, al­though in 1984, so many peo­ple left town for fear of grid­lock that traf­fic was a breeze.

“We want to demon­strate the tremen­dous, trans­for­ma­tive power of the Games to change peo­ple’s lives for the bet­ter with­out risk­ing bil­lions of dol­lars on new in­fra­struc­ture,” said Janet Evans, for­mer Olympic goldmedal swim­mer and the ath­letes di­rec­tor of the L.A. bid. “A hu­man legacy.”

But we’re all just hu­man, and so the ap­pro­pri­ate par­ty­ing will just have to wait.

Re­mem­ber those videos of thou­sands of cit­i­zens cel­e­brat­ing when their coun­try has been awarded the Olympics? The cheer­ing throngs of Athens, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo?

It didn’t hap­pen here. There were only a cou­ple of hun­dred of­fi­cials, ath­letes and me­dia at Mon­day’s hastily ar­ranged news con­fer­ence. No march­ing bands. No fire­works.

Hope­fully, in about four years, af­ter at least the 2020 Games in Tokyo, they’ll of­fi­cially start the Olympic count­down with a real party on L.A. streets. By then, the land­scape will be more clear, the mag­ni­tude will be more ap­par­ent, and the buzz will feel more real. As for now, well, um, er … “We are here to­day to make his­tory,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said Mon­day.

Con­grat­u­la­tions, but could you hold that thought?

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