Mayor Eric Garcetti appeared to be triumphant last night as he officially announced that Los Angeles is slated to host the 2028 Summer Olympics.
“We will host the games here in the City of Angels again,” Garcetti said at StubHub Center in Carson. L.A. is “the greatest sports city anywhere on the face of the earth.”
The International Olympic Committee revealed earlier in the day that it has approved a plan under which L.A. would host in 2028 and Paris would host in 2024. The deal includes “contributions to the organizing committee representing an overall estimated value of $1.8 billion,” according to an IOC statement. The cash would include $160 million that could immediately go to youth sports in L.A. “We are very happy that, as part of this host city contract, we are able to increase the access of the city’s youth to sport, and encourage the healthy lifestyle of Angelenos for the next 11 years,” IOC president Thomas Bach said in a statement.
The proposed agreement would still have to be approved by the City Council, which has to reassess the Olympics proposal because its original consideration targeted the 2024 Games. The total cost of the games could be $5.3 billion, and boosters have floated the possibility that City Hall could actually profit. The IOC has waived its usual claim of 20 percent of any surplus cash. And local Olympics organizers say Los Angeles will save tons of money hosting the games because it has most of the venues needed. Only minimal construction would be necessary, boosters say. “We really have an Olympics-ready city,” Garcetti said.
At the same time, a group called Los Angeles Democratic Socialists of America has been quietly organizing a campaign called NOlympics L.A. Its main argument is that Los Angeles is in the midst of a housing and homelessness crisis and that the Olympics is an unnecessary luxury.
“We think it's a dereliction of duty to rubber-stamp this without more consideration,” says Steve Ducey of NOlympics L.A., which is backed by 20 organizations, including Black Lives Matter Los Angeles. “We've got 11 years. We're committed to fighting the games in Los Angeles.'
He's concerned that preparations for the games would give the City Council an excuse to approve more of the kind of development that has wreaked havoc on the city's housing stock. “The rapid rise of gentrification and displacement in the city will be accelerated by the Olympics,” Ducey says. “We think the city has much bigger priorities than hosting a mega-sporting event.”
City Hall critic and political analyst Howard P. Cohen agrees that Los Angeles has better things to do. And he worries that boosters won't keep promises to ensure that taxpayers aren't fleeced by Olympics debt.
“It's not that we don't want [the games] here,” he says. “I question whether or not the people in power have the brains to make sure we don't get stuck holding the bag.”
Sports agent Casey Wasserman, who chairs L.A.'s Olympics bid, said last night, “We have a half a billion [dollar] contingency” in case the city loses money on the games.
Los Angeles will be one of a handful of cities to have hosted the Summer Games three times. City Council president Herb Wesson said the council will take up the matter Friday. “We will go down in the history books when we actually take this action,” he said at StubHub Center.
“There is no city money that is going to fund this,” he said. “We will scrub and scrub and scrub [this deal].”
NOlympics L.A. is planning to hold a public forum on the games Aug. 15. Ducey threatened that if the council approves the Olympics deal, his group could take the matter directly to voters. “There's no reason why we couldn't get a referendum on the ballot,” he says.