Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
December 13, 2015

  • City’s bid for 2024 games advances
  • Boosters say it could be profitable on $4.5 billion budget
  • But city would have to cover any losses

Los Angeles moved closer last week to becoming the venue for the 2024 Summer Olympics when voters in Hamburg canceled its bid.

That leaves Los Angeles facing only Paris, Rome and Budapest in the jousting before the International Olympic Committee, having become the U.S. candidate after Boston, the original American candidate, withdrew due to stiff local opposition.

Mayor Eric Garcetti and other civic boosters are beginning to sense a real chance for Los Angeles to host the games for the third time, seeing it as a shot in the arm for a city still struggling to emerge from the Great Recession.

After all, boosters claim, the last time the games came to the Southland, in 1984, they were a roaring success, even turning a profit rather than experiencing the multibillion-dollar cost overruns and deficits that have plagued other host cities.

But that was then and this is now. Los Angeles is a much different place than it was in 1984, and not in a positive way. Its aerospace industry collapsed in the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of the industry’s workers left for more hospitable climes. The city has become something of an economic drag on the state.

By using existing venues – such as the Los Angeles Coliseum, built for the 1932 Olympics – and keeping a tight lid on expenses, organizers say, the city can run a profitable event on a $4.5 billion budget.

That’s a small fraction of the $20 billion London spent in 2012 or the $40 billion the 2008 Beijing games cost, which sounds good, but big public projects tend to bust budgets.

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