The final obstacle between Los Angeles and a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics was cleared Tuesday morning when City Council voted 15-0 to authorize Mayor Eric Garcetti to pursue the bid.
A news conference was called for 12:30 p.m. in Santa Monica, where it is likely L.A. will be designated the American candidate for those Games. That would begin a two-year process in which a private L.A. bid committee would try to convince the International Olympic Committee that it is the best choice for 2024. The decision will be made Sept. 15, 2017, in Lima, Peru.
The United States hasn’t hosted a Summer Olympics since Atlanta in 1996.
The vote came after several council members expressed concern about a city guarantee to pay for potential Olympic budget overruns, which the International Olympic Committee typically demands of host cities.
Although Garcetti has said he plans to offer that guarantee in order to secure the games, the council’s action established as “guiding principle” for the city’s pursuit of event a provision that any commitments of public funds will require another council vote.
“We are not going to allow Los Angeles taxpayers to be on the hook for cost overruns,” Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said.
It is unclear how the council action might affect Garcetti’s avowed willingness to offer a financial backstop for the games.
Council President Herb Wesson said the resolution approved by the council would ensure council members are able to influence the city’s Olympic bid as it advances over the next two years.
“In essence, we have bought the city time to properly negotiate,” Wesson said. “This is the engagement. It’s not the wedding. And now it’s time to work on the pre-nup.”
Garcetti appeared in the council chamber after the vote was cast to embrace Wesson and other council members.
Council members had debated the issue for more than a week, concerned about a project with an overall cost that could exceed $6 billion.
Garcetti has vowed to sign an IOC host contract that would make the city financially liable if the Games ended up in debt. The mayor has said no tax dollars would be needed because billions in broadcast, sponsorship and ticket revenues would cover costs and generate a $161-million surplus.
But as preliminary details of the bid have been released, city analysts have questioned the wisdom of consenting to cover excess costs. Boston, which was the original U.S. bid city for 2024, saw its hopes collapse in July after the city’s mayor balked at the fiscal guarantee.
With Los Angeles eager to step in as a replacement, a team led by Garcetti and sports executive Casey Wasserman recently concluded negotiations with the USOC regarding terms of the bid.
The initial proposal carries a budget of $4.1 billion with an additional $150 million in insurance premiums and a $400-million contingency fund for cost overruns. The remainder of the $6 billion would come from more than $1.7 billion in private-sector contributions.
On Friday, Wasserman said he has already raised $35 million for the formation of the private committee to lead the campaign.
Los Angeles previously hosted the Olympics in 1932 and 1984.
The deadline for submitting candidates to the International Olympic Committee is mid-September. Paris, Rome, Hamburg and Budapest have already signaled their intentions to try for 2024.