Los Angeles City Council members delayed a decision Wednesday on whether the city should pursue the chance to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, saying they needed more time to review extensive plans for the proposed multibillion-dollar event that Mayor Eric Garcetti detailed publicly for the first time this week.
The council had been scheduled to vote on a resolution by Council President Herb Wesson that would authorize Garcetti to sign a legally binding agreement with the U.S. Olympic Committee. The agreement would enable L.A. to proceed as America’s bidder for the games.
That vote is now expected to be postponed at least until Friday. Some council members voiced concerns about the compressed timeline they were being given to take an action that could have serious implications for Olympics-related real-estate development in their districts.
“I, just like my colleagues, got the report yesterday, and we’re feverishly trying to go through it,” said Hollywood Hills-area Councilman David Ryu. “There are a lot of projects and a lot of unanswered questions — not just about the finances, but about community input.”
The vote’s postponement was the latest turn in Garcetti’s protracted effort to bring the Summer Games back to L.A. after what would be a 40-year hiatus. The city had early on been considered the favorite among finalists for America’s bid city, but was passed over by the U.S. Olympic Committee in January for Boston.
Last month, however, Boston backed out amid low public support for the Games and Mayor Marty Walsh’s reluctance to pledge taxpayer money to cover any Olympic budgetary shortfalls. The International Olympic Committee typically demands such a guarantee from host cities.
Garcetti has said he is willing to agree to provide a financial backstop, although he believes the event will turn a profit. L.A. is expected to announce an agreement with the U.S. Olympic Committee in the coming weeks.
The International Olympic Committee’s deadline for cities’ submissions is mid-September. The organization will pick a host city in 2017.
Connie Llanos, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said in an email that Garcetti “supports the City Council’s need to carefully review the Olympic bid” and that the council’s pending vote is “an important first step in a two-year campaign.”
The mayor’s office had declined to release detailed plans and budget projections for the Olympic bid until last week, when Wesson said they should be made public. On Tuesday, Garcetti and sports executive Casey Wasserman, his chief private-sector partner in the Olympic bid, released a proposal more than 200 pages long, a summary of their budget projections and a copy of the 75-page agreement that L.A.’s bid committee would have to sign in order to compete to host the event.
The documents estimate that the total cost of hosting the Olympics would be at least $5.8 billion. The Games’ local organizing committee would pay most of that amount, according to bid documents, with private organizations expected to pick up more than $1.7 billion. The plan forecasts a $160-million profit.
In recent weeks, as cost estimates for the games have trickled out, critics have begun to question the secrecy that has surrounded L.A.'s Olympic bid, as well as Garcetti’s willingness to commit the city to cover cost overruns. When L.A. hosted the 1984 Summer Games, city officials refused to provide such a guarantee.
Wesson hasn’t said whether he would support a taxpayer guarantee for the Games. But he urged other council members Wednesday to disregard “naysayers” on the Olympic bid and said he envisions the council staying involved throughout the bid process.
“We will vet this until we are satisfied with this. Today is the beginning of that process,” Wesson said.
The council did vote Wednesday to create an ad hoc committee to oversee the Olympic bid. That committee will meet for the first time Friday, shortly before the full council is expected to discuss the city’s bid.
It is unclear whether the council will be ready to vote Friday. “We may not be prepared,” Wesson acknowledged. “We may need another meeting.”