This week brought more clarity to the competition among four cities wanting to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.
The candidates had to submit a first round of documents to the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday, laying out their plans for the massive, 17-day sporting event.
Rome promised to incorporate the Roman Forum and Circus Maximus into its venue layout. Paris spoke of beach volleyball at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and cyclists racing past the Arc de Triomphe.
Budapest, Hungary, seen as a longshot, pushed the idea of Eastern European charm in an intimate setting.
All of which left Los Angeles — so young by comparison — with no choice but to position itself as the “What’s next” candidate.
“When you think about what L.A. and California embody, we embody creativity and innovation,” said Casey Wasserman, chairman of the city’s private bid committee.
A bold promise lies at the heart of the 56-page document the LA 2024 group sent to the IOC, with bid leaders vowing to call upon Hollywood and high-tech industry in staging a “New Games for a New Era.”
If the document fell short in specifics for this vision, it was because Wasserman and his colleagues acknowledge they don’t yet know what that future might look like.
“We’ll reveal more as we go along,” he said.
Less than six months have passed since bidding for 2024 officially started. From the start, L.A. has believed that its array of world-class stadiums and arenas could make for a dependable, economically feasible Olympics.
The L.A. proposal also includes a pro soccer stadium slated for Exposition Park and a potential NFL stadium in Inglewood.
Paris and Rome can make similar claims about existing facilities, so it will take more than brick and mortar to win the bid. Scores of IOC members around the globe must find other reasons to vote for Los Angeles in September 2017.
That’s where the “What’s next” pitch comes in.
If nothing else, LA 2024 leaders believe they have time to ponder the future because they don’t have to worry about acquiring chunks of land or building stadiums and arenas.
Instead, Chief Executive Gene Sykes said he has already begun gathering “a groundswell of really interesting ideas.”
“You would be impressed with the number of people — technology leaders from all parts of California — who have come to us,” Sykes said.
The committee is forming what it calls an “Innovation Network” of “top tech and thought leaders.”
According to the filing, media companies would be asked to help imagine new ways of promoting the Games, and the entertainment industry would be enlisted to add drama to the presentation.
There would be an emphasis on social media, digital content and interactive fan experiences at venues. Some of the ideas — such as an athletes village where every room has streaming movies — would be small but potentially appealing to the IOC.
Youth is another facet of the pitch. Within those 56 pages are color photographs showing volleyball players on the beach, a couple bicycling along the shore and kids in a soccer game at the park.
This week’s filing referenced the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, for which Peter Ueberroth created a model for attracting sponsorship and television dollars, all but saving the Games by turning a profit after so many previous hosts had gone deep into debt.
It could take another such transformative moment — or at least the reasonable promise of one — to bring the Games back to Southern California three decades later.
Follow David Wharton on Twitter @LATimesWharton.
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