Los Angeles projects $161 million surplus for Olympics

Author: The Associated Press
MGN Online

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Anxiety over taxpayer costs helped cripple Boston’s 2024 Olympic bid, but organizers in potential stand-in Los Angeles projected that they could stage events from Santa Monica Beach to the Hollywood Hills and bank a $161 million surplus.

Los Angeles, which hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympics, is viewed as the likely replacement for Boston’s failed bid because the city’s many existing venues could help keep costs low.

The Los Angeles plan projects spending $4.1 billion; Boston’s operating budget was about $4.6 billion, but billions more could have been needed for construction, security and other costs.

The Los Angeles figures released Tuesday provided the most detailed look to date on estimated expenses to run the 2024 Games in California. According to the documents, the bulk of the funding would come from broadcast revenue, sponsorships and ticket sales.

“In Los Angeles, the spotlight is always on. We have the resources, experience and secure environment to share the biggest events with the world,” the proposal states.

The Los Angeles City Council is expected to vote Friday on a proposal giving Mayor Eric Garcetti authority to execute agreements linked to the city’s bid.

Over the years Olympics have been notorious for cost overruns, and studies have questioned if host cities benefit economically. Russia has been struggling with costs from the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which have been called the most expensive Olympics of all time.

Under the plan, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum would get an $800 million makeover focused on seating upgrades and premium amenities. The University of Southern California, which plays its football games at the Coliseum, would invest $500 million for the renovation, the plan states.

Nearly $1 billion more would be needed for other competition venues, according to the plan.

The release of the cost estimate came about a month after the U.S. Olympic Committee cut talks with Boston, which was initially selected as the U.S. contender for the games. A sticking point in Boston was possible cost overruns that would have to be covered by taxpayers.

The USOC faces a Sept. 15 deadline to enter a bid with the International Olympic Committee.

The Los Angeles proposal envisions events taking place at locations showcasing the best of the area.

Gymnastics and basketball would be held at the downtown Staples Center, home to the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers. Volleyball would be staged on Santa Monica Beach.

Road cyclists and marathon runners would match skills on Hollywood Boulevard. Mountain bikers would hit the dirt in Griffith Park, one of the largest urban parks in the U.S.

Security costs would be picked up by the federal government, according to organizers.

According to the documents, outside spending would reach $1.7 billion, which includes the USC funds for the Coliseum and over $900 million in private financing to build the Olympic Village for athletes on 125 acres owned by Union Pacific Railroad Co., adjacent to downtown. Union Pacific’s largest shareholder is billionaire Philip Anschutz, whose Anschutz Entertainment Group owns the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and the downtown Staples Center.

In addition to the $4.1 billion in costs listed by the city, the plan also calls for a $400 million contingency fund as a hedge against overruns and a $150 million insurance premium.

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