Staff report says L.A. City Council should approve 2028 Olympic Games despite uncertainties

Staff report says L.A. City Council should approve 2028 Olympic Games despite uncertainties
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announces a deal reached with the International Olympic Committee to host the 2028 Summer Olympics at a press conference July 31. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

A report issued Wednesday by key Los Angeles staff recommends the City Council approve a 2028 Olympic bid despite incomplete information and the “greater uncertainty” of committing to the massive sports event more than a decade in advance.

The City Administrative Officer and Chief Legislative Analyst released their 86-page document only two days before council members are expected to vote on the matter.


The report acknowledged the lack of an updated budget from the private LA 2028 bid committee and the difficulty of forecasting “the future global, national and local economic and political conditions.”

It said that new agreements between the city, LA 28 and the International Olympic Committee would “provide solutions to mitigate the added risk.”

Developments surrounding L.A.'s campaign to host the Summer Games for a third time have moved at breakneck pace in recent weeks.

The rush began in July when the IOC decided to change what had been a traditional race between L.A. and Paris, both strong candidates, to host in 2024. Olympic officials announced their intention to also name the 2028 winner.

Negotiations resulted in Paris going first and L.A. agreeing to wait four more years.

If, as expected, IOC members ratify this arrangement, the city will have to sign a host contract, agreeing to act as a financial backstop should the privately run Games go over budget.

The City Council, which previously voted its support for the 2024 bid, has been asked to reconsider the issue for 2028 and reach a decision by mid-August so the IOC can prepare a report for its members.

"[The] process should start over, because 2028 has a whole different set of variables at play," said Jonny Coleman, organizer of the NOlympics LA group. "And the 2028 plan needs to be vetted by economists, environmental experts, civil rights scholars and so forth before they even think of putting this up for a vote."

The CAO-CLA report noted the time frame does not allow for LA 28 to present a revised budget. Staff nonetheless recommended approval based on other factors.

The initial 2024 plan had earned praise for using existing stadiums and arenas to save on expenses. Bid officials have said no new construction would be added for 2028.

At the same time, the IOC has agreed to increase its contribution from an estimated $1.7 billion to as much as $2 billion. It will give L.A. a $180-million advance on that amount, with an estimated $160 million of the payments earmarked for youth sports programs.

LA 28 could save an additional tens of millions in waived Olympic fees and will not have to pay the IOC a customary 20% of any surplus should the Games turn a profit, as they did when L.A. hosted in 1984.

Still, city officials were concerned enough to revise their “memorandum of understanding,” a working agreement with bid officials and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

LA 28 agreed to take out additional insurance should unforeseen circumstances force them to back out of the Games. And council members would have a say in controlling a larger portion of an estimated $487-million contingency fund for unexpected expenses.

But the bid would proceed without assurances of state backing.

California legislators previously agreed to provide $250 million for cost overruns. That money would kick in only after the city covered the first $250 million.

The CAO-CLA report included letters from Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) vowing to pursue a similar bill for the 2028 Games.

State legislators do not expect to revisit the issue until next year.

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