Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

A City Council committee threw its support Friday behind an effort to bring the 2024 Summer Olympic Games to Los Angeles, and the issue will head to the full council next week.

The City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on the 2024 Summer Olympics approved an agreement that would show the United States Olympics Committee that the city of Los Angeles is committed to pursuing a bid to host the Games.

Following the committee vote, the full council discussed the issue briefly, but postponed a decision until Tuesday to give members time to review the bidding documents.

“I’m fired up over this bid,” an exuberant Councilman Joe Buscaino said during the committee meeting.

The “joinder” agreement was requested by the United States Olympics Committee, which has until Sept. 15 to submit a proposed U.S. bid city to the International Olympics Committee.

Los Angeles initially lost the opportunity to bid to Boston, but regained it after the East Coast city backed out over concerns about city financial liability.

The council committee heard presentations from city analysts and members of LA24, a nonprofit formed to pursue the bid and potentially manage the games if Los Angeles is picked as the host city.

LA24 chair Casey Wasserman, a businessman and philanthropist, told the committee he was “honored to have been asked by the mayor to help lead this effort.”

“I believe in this opportunity and I believe that this can be and will be the most responsible Games possible,” Wasserman said.

The panel voted in favor of the effort after revisions were made to the agreement, clarifying that the city will still have the opportunity to negotiate a more comprehensive “host city contract” at a later date.

City attorneys told the panel that by backing the bid effort today, the city will not be exposed to any major financial obligations or liabilities.

Council President Herb Wesson said that with the changes to the agreement, “we’ve given ourselves more time.”

A proposed contract between LA24 and the USOC, along with a 200-page draft bid book, were released this week to the public, giving the city limited time to review the pact before the USOC’s deadline. Some city officials and residents have urged caution in pursuing the bid, saying the city could be on the hook for cost overruns incurred by hosting the Olympics.

City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana and Chief Legislative Analyst Sharon Tso wrote in a report released Thursday that based on the information given to the city, “it is difficult to determine the fiscal impact and risk to the city of hosting the 2024 Games at this time.”

Santana and Tso noted that based on a preliminary review of the budget, one of the major capital projects, the Olympic Village, “may significantly exceed the projected $1 billion.” The analysts said more than half of the budget may go toward just remediation and relocation costs.

These and other questions have been raised as to whether the budget accurately estimates the potential costs, as well as a request by the USOC and the IOC that the city agree to pay for any cost overruns. Other cities that have hosted the Olympic Games have signed onto this promise.

Boston, the USOC’s original pick to make a bid to the IOC, was withdrawn after city leaders faced public opposition to the Games and concerns arose about the potential cost of the Games to taxpayers.

Supporters of the Los Angeles bid have said they are not concerned by potential cost overruns, saying that unlike other cities, Los Angeles already has many of the needed sporting venues in place.

LA24 officials this week revealed that they estimate the cost of hosting the 2024 Olympics in Los Angeles would be $4.1 billion, or $4.6 billion when a roughly $400 million contingency fund and insurance are included.

They project revenue from the Games will bring in $4.8 billion, resulting in a profit of $161 million going to LA24.

The budget anticipates that the International Olympic Committee will contribute $1.5 billion or 31 percent of the revenue, with domestic sponsorships and ticket revenue making up the other two-thirds. The bid packet also included details about how the Olympics might be operated.

The Olympic Village would be next to the Los Angeles River in Lincoln Heights — in a Union Pacific rail yard known as the “Piggyback Yard” — and calls for track-and-field and the opening and closing ceremonies to be held at a renovated Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The bid also designates sports venue clusters in downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, the San Fernando Valley, coastal areas like Santa Monica, the area around UCLA and the South Bay.

—City News Service

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