The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding between the city and the private LA 2024 Olympic Bid Committee that offers insurance protections for taxpayers and council veto power over any venues outside the city of Los Angeles for the proposed 2024 Games.
And though some council members previously expressed concern over the opening and closing ceremonies taking place outside of the city, the council presented a united front on the recently announced plan to use the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Exposition Park and the planned $2.6 billion NFL stadium in Inglewood in the ceremonies.
Speaking in the council chamber before the vote on the MOU, Council President Herb Wesson dismissed any notion of a “civil war” between the Coliseum, which hosted opening and closing ceremonies for the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, and the Inglewood stadium scheduled to open in 2019 as the home of the NFL’s Rams and Chargers.
“It’s not L.A. Coliseum versus this brand-new stadium in Inglewood that’s going to have all these bells and whistles. The question for our ad hoc (Olympics) committee, the question for LA 2024, the question for city staff was, `How do we utilize all of the assets that we have in the city of Los Angeles?”‘ Wesson said.
Councilman Paul Krekorian, who sits on the council’s ad hoc committee on the Olympics and chairs the Budget and Finance Committee, had been the most vocal against any move for opening or closing ceremonies outside the city.
He said in December that it “would be something that would not be in the interest of this city to do” and could change the “value equation” for the council, as the city would be taking the greatest financial risk compared to the state or surrounding cities in hosting the Games.
But Krekorian Tuesday expressed support of the hybrid plan to utilize both the Coliseum and the NFL stadium.
“This will be unlike any opening and closing ceremony that any city has ever had. It will be magnificent and it will be a way to connect the rich Olympic history that this city has with the incredible future that this city has,” Krekorian said.
No other council member spoke against the hybrid plan before the vote on the MOU, which was negotiated by the chief administrative officer and the chief legislative analyst.
Krekorian said he believed the MOU minimalized any risk to taxpayers, adding that he was “entirely thrilled and pleased at the end result of this process.”
The council previously approved a proposed $5.3 billion balanced budget for the Games that includes $491.9 million as a contingency to address any unexpected financial deficit.
The MOU does not include the opening or closing ceremonies plan or any specific venue plans, as the bid committee still needs to finalize all venue plans and present them to the council for approval before Feb. 3. That date is a “stage 3″ deadline when the committee will submit its final packet of documents to the International Olympic Committee.
Following the submission of the documents, the bid committee will make a series of presentations to IOC officials before the final selection is made in Lima, Piru, in September.
LA 2024 is competing with bid committees in Paris and Budapest, Hungary to bring the Olympics to Los Angeles in 2024.
–City News Service
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