L.A. City Council Olympics Committee Meets

VAN NUYS (CNS) - The Los Angeles City Council's committee on the Olympics expressed support today for the city to pursue hosting the 2028 Summer Games while ceding the `24 Games to Paris.

Members of the committee who spoke during the meeting said they believed the `28 bid would be advantageous for the city because of some potential financial gains and other factors.

“To me it seems very clear that this is a better package for the people of Los Angeles and it's a safer package for the taxpayers and the budget of Los Angeles than we had for 2024, and that was a great package,'' Councilman Paul Krekorian said.

The committee had not met since January, when it gave the go-ahead to the proposed contract and memorandum of understand the city would sign if it landed the `24 Games. At the time, the idea of 2028 was not even on the table and the city was in a tight competition with Paris and Budapest, Hungary, to host in `24.

Much has changed since the meeting; Budapest dropped out of the running and the International Olympic Committee approved the idea of awarding both the `24 and `28 Games simultaneously.

On Monday, Mayor Eric Garcetti and other leaders announced a tentative agreement to host in `28 as long as the Los Angeles City Council and U.S. Olympic Committee Board of Directors also approve of the change. If that approval is given, the IOC, Los Angeles and Paris will work on a formal three- way agreement in advance of the IOC's meeting in Lima, Peru, on Sept. 13, when the Games will officially be awarded.

One of the votes the committee unanimously recommended Friday was changing its name from the Ad Hoc Committee on the 2024 Summer Olympics to reflect the `28 Games, just as LA 2024, the nonprofit committee leading L.A.'s bid, changed its name to LA 2028 on Monday.

The committee was told by staff that a new memorandum of understanding should be ready for the council to review within a week.

Los Angeles would receive some significant financial concessions for waiting the extra four years to host. Under the terms of the `28 host city contract, the IOC would advance $180 million to a Los Angeles organizing committee due to the longer planning period and to fund youth sports in the years leading up to the Games.

When Los Angeles hosted in 1984, it ended with a surplus used to fund youth sports, and the foundation it created, the LA84 Foundation, is still in operation. Under the 2028 deal, L.A. would get new money to fund youth sports right away and not have to wait 11 years for a potential surplus.

The IOC also agreed to waive $50 million in fees and contribute up to $2 billion of its broadcast and sponsorship revenues to the Games, more than the $1.7 billion pledged to Paris in `24. The IOC also agreed to funnel any of its profits from the Games back to the city.

LA 2028 has proposed a balanced budget of $5.3 billion, which is low compared to other modern Olympics, by utilizing existing venues and not building any new permanent structures just for the Games.

One potential risk factor in moving forward with `28 is that part of the `24 deal includes $250 million from the state, the committee was told by Chief Legislative Analyst Sharon Tso. With the Legislature on recess, it is not guaranteed that the state will approve the same amount for `28 by a deadline of Aug. 18 when the council would need to take a number of actions.

Krekorian noted that the money was approved by the Legislature by wide margins and was not controversial when it was debated. He also said he had “no doubt'' that Gov. Jerry Brown and leaders in the Legislature would be eager to express support for the change before Aug. 18 even if they were not able to officially approve it by that time.

On Monday, Garcetti pitched the new deal as a win for Los Angeles because of the financial concessions and the immediate money for youth sports.

“If somebody literally said you can take this deal for 2024 or this deal for 2028, you can have either one, I would take this 2028 deal, because I want the city to feel it immediately. I don't want seven or eight years of kids to be lost and never get to play sports,'' Garcetti said.

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