Evaluating LA Bid For 2024 Olympics Requires Imagination

​By MICHAEL R. BLOOD, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Evaluating Los Angeles' readiness to host the 2024 Olympic Games takes some imagination. That's because a lot of the pitch still relies on images on a computer screen, or a blueprint of what's to come on a dusty construction site.

Los Angeles Olympic organizers often say their plan for two weeks of international competition is virtually realized, stressing that it requires no new construction of permanent venues. The concept for the LA Games, they say, is ready to go because "it already exists."



But there is a lot that International Olympic Committee members won't see as they visit Los Angeles this week in the run-up to a September decision on whether LA or Paris will get the 2024 Games.

Some of the opening ceremonies, including the famous Parade of Nations, would take place in a $2.6 billion NFL stadium just outside Los Angeles that today is a gouged, fenced-in lot crisscrossed by tire tracks.

The city notorious for its clotted freeway traffic will make use of a "growing public transit system," the LA proposal boasts. Indeed, Los Angeles has billions of dollars of planned rail lines, some of which are under construction and not scheduled to be completed until 2023 or 2024. Others are in use and would drop spectators near venues.

City planners describe Los Angeles International Airport as the "gateway" for the Olympics. But anyone familiar with the airport knows it inflicts daily misery on travelers, including knotted traffic in and out of terminals. An impressive new terminal opened several years ago for international flights, and billions of dollars in other improvements are underway.

LA's bid is closer to completion than many in past years, but in some ways it comes down to a promise of what's to come.

This week, IOC members are looking for "the ability to deliver," Chicago-based sports finance consultant Marc Ganis said. They want to see "commitment and competence," he said, not just sketches and mock-ups.

On Thursday, members of the IOC fanned out in three groups to privately tour the proposed venues, from downtown Los Angeles to Long Beach to Carson to Pasadena, and the campuses of Southern California and UCLA.

The media village would be at USC, while the athletes' village would be at UCLA, where existing residence and dining halls would be used.

"The feedback was incredible," said LA24 chairman Casey Wasserman, who didn't elaborate on the IOC's reaction.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti added: "They had good suggestions that helped our thinking a lot."

In the background is a looming question. The IOC is considering awarding two Olympics at its September meeting in Peru, 2024 and 2028, one for each city. Officials from both cities stress they are bidding on 2024.

On Wednesday, Patrick Baumann, chairman of the IOC evaluation committee, didn't directly address a question about the possibility of awarding the 2024 and 2028 Games at the same time.

"We will be concentrating on the process that has started and these cities have been going through for the purpose of awarding the host of 2024," Baumann told reporters.

In the Olympics, time is the enemy. As late as March 2000, the IOC considered moving the 2004 Olympics out of Athens, Greece, because of construction delays. Even so, work on the main stadium complex was ongoing just weeks before the Games began.

There are six venues planned for Long Beach, a coastal city south of downtown LA. Some of them will require temporary facilities that don't exist today, including a water polo pool. Others will take place in the ocean or in Long Beach Arena.

The cost of making it a reality comes out of the bid's $5.3 billion budget. Erecting and removing the temporary pool and bleachers, for example, is projected at nearly $14 million. A mountain biking track in the hills east of Los Angeles will cost over $13 million. A temporary outdoor stadium would rise next to the famous Santa Monica Pier for beach volleyball. Cost: $23.4 million.

Even sites that do exist, like the iconic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home to the 1932 and 1984 Olympics, are works in progress.

It's slated to have a $270 million privately funded renovation completed by 2019, but transforming a football stadium into a venue for Olympic track events, then back again, will cost over $100 million, according to projections.

A little stagecraft can help fill in what's missing. At the Rose Bowl, organizers emblazoned the field with the Olympic rings for the IOC guests. Hollywood studios were illuminated with the colors of an LA sunset and the logo for the city's bid to mark the arrival of the IOC. Committee members attended a celebrity-studded dinner Wednesday where guests included retired Lakers great Kobe Bryant, Spanish tenor Placido Domingo and actor Sylvester Stallone.

"A lot of the stadiums for the Olympics are being envisioned for the future. They would not even be built if it wasn't for the Olympics," said Jules Boykoff, a professor at Pacific University in Oregon who has written widely on the Olympics movement.

"If you have existing venues, you don't have to envision as much. It still takes some imagination," he said.


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Dear USA Gymnastics Community:I am writing to tell you that USA Gymnastics President and CEO Kerry Perry informed our Board of Directors last night that she will resign effective immediately. On behalf of the board, I want to thank Kerry for her leadership under very difficult circumstances. As you know, USA Gymnastics has been in the midst of a difficult and painful transition to ensure that the safety and interests of our athletes remain at the heart of our mission. While much as been accomplished over the past several months to stabilize the organization, we still face tremendous challenges as we all work to achieve fundamental changes to move our sport forward. We look forward to bringing in new leadership to build on the progress to date, and the board will immediately begin the search for an interim CEO. In the meantime, it has established a management committee to provide organizational oversight to maintain continuity in the day-to-day operations until an interim CEO is named. Additionally, the board is in the process of forming a search committee made up of board members, as well as athletes and others from the gymnastics and NGB community, to find our next permanent leader. Board member and Olympian Brent Lang, president and CEO of Vocera, will chair the committee. We will keep you informed as we work through our urgent leadership issues. I want to assure you that this board is determined to take the necessary steps to support a safe and competitive environment where every athlete can grow, learn life lessons, have fun and succeed. We know the last few years have been very difficult for everyone involved with USA Gymnastics, and we thank you for your patience and support through these challenging days. The athletes, parents, coaches, judges, volunteers, gym owners and USA Gymnastics staff are the heart and soul of USA Gymnastics, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that our athletes and everyone involved with our great sport and movement achieve their fullest potential. Sincerely,Karen GolzChair, Board of DirectorsUSA Gymnastics