RE­VISED 2028 GAMES BID IS OK’D

City Coun­cil agrees to cover any losses; crit­ics com­plain the coun­cil doesn’t have com­plete in­for­ma­tion.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By David Whar­ton

Noth­ing about Los Angeles’ quest to host the Sum­mer Olympics for a third time has been straight­for­ward or easy.

The pri­vate com­mit­tee pur­su­ing the bid was named as the sole U.S. can­di­date for 2024 only af­ter the first choice, Bos­ton, with­drew.

Then, in the mid­dle of a heated race be­tween L.A. and Paris, the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee changed the rules, bro­ker­ing an un­usual deal that has Paris tak­ing 2024 and L.A. wait­ing an­other four years.

So it makes sense that the lat­est mile­stone in the cam­paign — a cru­cial City Coun­cil meet­ing — turned rau­cous and a bit messy on Fri­day.

As coun­cil mem­bers unan­i­mously en­dorsed the re­vised 2028 bid — and po­si­tioned the city to serve as a fi­nan­cial back­stop in case the es­ti­mated $5.3-bil­lion event loses money — their vote was drowned out by a small but vol­u­ble group of crit­ics.

“I thought this was go­ing to be a marathon,” Mayor Eric Garcetti later said of the two-year ef­fort. “But this has been the hur­dles.”

Op­po­nents com­plained that coun­cil mem­bers were act­ing with­out ben­e­fit of com­plete in­for­ma­tion, hur­ry­ing their de­ci­sion to meet an Aug. 18 dead­line set by the IOC.

“Look, there’s 11 years be­fore the Games, so it wouldn’t hurt if they took a year or even six months in­stead of rush­ing,” said Jed Par­riott, an or­ga­nizer of the NO­lympics LA group. “The whole process feels like a give­away to the IOC.”

Again, L.A.’s not-so-lin­ear path to the Games was the prob­lem.

Back when the pri­vate L.A. bid com­mit­tee was vy­ing for 2024, it pro­duced a bud­get and in­de­pen­dent anal­y­sis, es­ti­mat­ing it could cover all costs through cor­po­rate spon­sor­ships, ticket sales and other rev­enue sources.

An ad­di­tional state anal­y­sis con­cluded the bid was “fairly low-risk” be­cause it re­lied on ex­ist­ing venues such as the Coli­seum and Sta­ples Cen­ter rather than

con­struct­ing ex­pen­sive new sta­di­ums and are­nas.

The coun­cil used that in­for­ma­tion to ap­prove the orig­i­nal plan in Jan­uary.

But last month, when IOC Pres­i­dent Thomas Bach brought the two-win­ner pro­posal to his mem­ber­ship, he had to walk a po­lit­i­cal tightrope. Bach pre­vailed, in part, by promis­ing to have both can­di­dates locked into a deal by midSeptem­ber.

The “host city con­tract” was crit­i­cal. Even though the Olympics are of­ten run by pri­vate com­mit­tee, the IOC re­quires host cities to promise they will set­tle any debts should the Games go over­bud­get.

So Olympic of­fi­cials needed LA 28 to move quickly in se­cur­ing an up­dated guar­an­tee from the City Coun­cil. The ex­pe­dited sched­ule left no time for a new bud­get or anal­y­sis.

“We are the only city that has two suc­cess­ful Olympics — that’s what I look to,” Coun­cil­man Gil Cedillo said, re­fer­ring to pre­vi­ous L.A. Games in 1984 and 1932. “You can tell me other cities haven’t been suc­cess­ful. That’s not us.”

Fel­low coun­cil mem­ber David Ryu sounded less con­fi­dent, en­dors­ing the bid but later is­su­ing a state­ment that noted the “lim­ited com­ment and par­lia­men­tary pro­ce­dure.”

Ryu pointed to the lack of cur­rent fi­nan­cial numbers and other un­re­solved is­sues, say­ing: “If any of th­ese do not come through, I will push for our city to end this agree­ment.”

Ear­lier on Fri­day, the com­bat­ive mood had be­gun dur­ing an ad hoc com­mit­tee meet­ing.

Op­po­nents lined up at the mi­cro­phone to ex­press con­cerns that the Olympics would neg­a­tively af­fect low­in­come res­i­dents and the home­less. Sup­port­ers coun­tered that civic ex­cite­ment around the Games could trig­ger so­cial change.

At one point, Coun­cil­man Joe Bus­caino got into a shout­ing match with an op­po­nent.

“I’m tired of hear­ing th­ese peo­ple com­ing to us and ques­tion­ing our de­ci­sion­mak­ing,” Bus­caino said.

To which the op­po­nent yelled: “It’s called democ­racy.”

LA 28 of­fi­cials have vowed not to make any sig­nif­i­cant changes to the ex­pense side of their orig­i­nal 2024 plan, a theme that was re­peated among dozens of Olympic ath­letes who at­tended to show sup­port.

“I have some of the same con­cerns that ev­ery­body else does: the in­fra­struc­ture, the fi­nan­cial im­pact,” said Greg Louga­nis, a four-time gold medal­ist in div­ing who has worked closely with the bid. “We have so much time, I’m very op­ti­mistic we can work those is­sues out.”

Coun­cil mem­bers did have one new piece of in­for­ma­tion to con­sider be­fore the vote.

The city ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer and chief leg­isla­tive an­a­lyst is­sued a re­port this week ac­knowl­edg­ing the “greater un­cer­tainty” of com­mit­ting to the Games more than a decade in ad­vance but rec­om­mend­ing en­dorse­ment be­cause of other fac­tors de­signed to “mit­i­gate the added risk.”

In re­cent ne­go­ti­a­tions, the IOC agreed to in­crease its 2028 con­tri­bu­tion from an es­ti­mated $1.7 bil­lion to as much as $2 bil­lion. It will also give L.A. a $180-mil­lion ad­vance on that amount over five years, with an es­ti­mated $160 mil­lion ear­marked for youth sports pro­grams.

LA 28 could save ad­di­tional tens of mil­lions in waived Olympic fees and will not have to pay the IOC a cus­tom­ary 20% of any sur­plus should the Games turn a profit, which they did when L.A. hosted in 1984.

The bid com­mit­tee has said it will pur­chase a se­ries of in­sur­ance poli­cies and set aside 10% of es­ti­mated costs in a con­tin­gency fund to cover over­runs.

Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Herb Wes­son called the deal “too good to pass up” but ac­knowl­edged that op­po­nents had voiced le­git­i­mate con­cerns.

“In the United States of Amer­ica, we can agree to dis­agree,” he said. “We could meet for two more months, four more months, a year … and you’re still go­ing to have a per­cent­age of peo­ple who do not sup­port the Games.”

Mar­cus Yam Los Angeles Times

CITY COUN­CIL Pres­i­dent Herb Wes­son says deal of­fered by IOC for 2028 Games is too good to pass up.

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