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Pin Sale Planned : It’s Official: L.A.'s in the Running for the 2004 Olympics

Times Staff Writer

Pinning its hopes literally on the sale of souvenir pins to finance the effort, Los Angeles on Tuesday became the first city out of the starting blocks in the race to get the Olympic Games in the year 2004.

John Argue, president of the Southern California Committee for the Olympics, formally announced that his group, which played a key role in bringing the Games here last year, has made a bid to hold the international sports spectacular here for an unprecedented third time.

The bid would be the first step in a long process toward award of the Games, and cities often have to bid a number of times before winning. Argue pointed out that the award of the 1984 Games, for example, culminated an effort that began in 1939.

At a news briefing, Argue revealed a design for a pin that will be used to raise funds to lobby members of the International Olympic Committee, which makes the final decision on the site of the Games.

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The money will be used to entertain IOC members when they visit Los Angeles, he said.

Argue predicted that the first limited edition of 10,000 gold-and-red pins, which will be sold to the public at $10 each, will bring in $100,000. They will be advertised for sale in the near future, and orders can be placed now, according to Argue.

The design of the pin incorporates the numbers 32, 84 and 2004, representing the 1932 Olympics, the first held here, the 1984 Games and, finally, the year in which the committee hopes to win the right to host the Olympics for the third time. No other city has hosted the Olympics more than twice, although Paris, site of the 1900 and 1924 Games, is seeking the 1992 Olympics.

Argue said that as with the 1984 Games, the 2004 Olympics, if awarded to Los Angeles, would be financed “basically . . . through private sources, except that last time the money seemed to come from larger individual donors and businesses.”

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Hope to Broaden Appeal

This time, he said, “we are trying to broaden our appeal” to bring the general public more into the financial picture through the sale of pins. Two other pin editions, one in silver and red, and another in bronze and red, will be offered later at the same $10 price.

The sale and trading of souvenir pins is a popular activity at all Olympics, and was particularly so during the 1984 Games.

Mayor Tom Bradley was out of town and could not be reached for comment on the plan. But a staff member who worked on the 1984 Games, said the Committee for the Olympics plan is simply “the first of several attempts” to try to land the event at some future date.

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At the news conference, Argue said “this is a private effort but the mayor is supportive.”

Noting that the committee began working to get the 1984 Olympics here seven years after the 1932 Games, Argue said, “This time we are starting 19 years early.”

The 1988 Olympics will be held in Seoul, South Korea. Nine nations are bidding for the 1992 Games, and the IOC will make a decision on that site soon.

First Likely Date

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Argue said the year 2004 was chosen as the target for Los Angeles because “we think Athens has a good chance to get the 1996 Games (the centennial of the modern Olympics), and in the year 2,000 China has already announced its interest and is working hard on that. So, because the other dates seem spoken for, and because it is unlikely the Games will come back to the United States too often, we think the first likely date would be the year 2004.”

Although the 1984 Games showed a profit of about $225 million, Argue said he did not believe the motive in bringing the Olympics back a third time was “profit motivated.”

“The simple answer,” he said, “would be to get them (the Games) back here for the same reason we got them here the first time--because we think it was good for the Olympics and good for the people of Los Angeles.”

Under the contract for the 1984 Games, 40% of the profit will go to the U.S. Olympic Committee, 40% to youth sports programs in Southern California and 20% to American sports federations that participated in the event.

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