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City Analysts: Los Angeles's Olympics Bid is Kinda Nonsense

A big, glossy Olympic bid book released earlier this week showed off Los Angeles's plans for hosting the 2024 summer Games—there were all kinds of flashy promises, including upgrades to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the construction of a riverside Olympic Village, and projections for a huge profit to be made by the city—which is important, because LA will agree to pass on any cost overruns to its taxpayers. But now a report from city analysts says that the plan has a discomforting number of unknowns, especially where the budget is concerned. Analysts "cannot verify, validate or further explain" many of the projected numbers in the plan, like which specific companies and organizations are going to be contributing toward the estimated $1.7-billion in private funds required, according to the LA Times.

Another unclear area of the proposal is the Olympic Village. The bid book says the complex is slated to be built on Piggyback Yard, a railyard owned by Union Pacific Corporation that the city has been trying to buy for years as part of LA River revitalization efforts. The bid states that city officials "have been in regular communication with Union Pacific" and noted that UP is "committed to further exploratory conversations about the use of its land for the Olympic Village." But the report from city analysts says that UP "currently have no plans or desire to vacate the site"; older river reports called them a "reluctant seller." The report goes on to suggest that the cost of building on the site could "significantly exceed" the $1 billion anticipated in the bid book, and also noted that it is unclear from the bid book whether construction on the village would have any affect on the long-planned restoration of the LA River, which is centered on the stretch surrounding Piggyback Yard.

Ultimately, the analysts' report concluded that, absent so much key information, "it is difficult to determine the fiscal impact and risk to the city of hosting the 2024 Games at this time." The shakiness of the financial estimates doesn't sit well with the city controller, either. He issued a letter to LA's Olympic committee yesterday saying he would "be remiss to not urge caution. ... it is vital to properly and sufficiently safeguard Angelenos and our City government from possible losses" and asking for "complete transparency when it comes to the process of reviewing proposed expenditures and forecasts of the economic gains and risks" of the Olympics.

Though the report from city analysts says there's not enough evidence the 2024 Olympics will be a financial winner for Los Angeles, let alone a huge moneymaker, Mayor Eric Garcetti is totally confident. In a meeting with the editorial board of the Los Angeles New Group this week, he said the $160-million surplus projected in the bid is a conservative number. "I think it's much, much more probable that we'll have a lot of revenue sources that come from this than worrying about the loss," he said.
· City analysts: Olympic Village may 'significantly exceed' cost estimate [LAT]
· Olympics likely to make money, not cost money, L.A. Mayor Garcetti says [DB]
· 7 Very Big-Deal Plans in Los Angeles's New 2024 Olympics Bid [Curbed LA]
· Details Revealed For the 2024 Olympic Village That Could Permanently Change the Face of the LA River [Curbed LA]