Organizers of the Los Angeles bid to host the 2024 Olympics have chosen the UCLA campus as the prospective site for the athletes' village.
Economists studying the economic impact of sports are split over whether L.A. officials’ decision to use existing housing will help its Olympic bid.
Victor Matheson, an economist at the College of the Holy Cross, said that using UCLA housing could give Los Angeles an edge. Olympic officials last year issued guidelines encouraging host cities to be more thrifty.
“If you can get a bid that uses your existing infrastructure, this is probably going to improve their bid,” Matheson said.
But Stanford’s economics professor emeritus Roger Noll said that Olympic officials may talk thrift, but what they really want is theater.
“The Olympic hierarchy likes to have monuments built to itself, and using existing facilities is still a disadvantage,” Noll said.
Noll pointed out that Tokyo beat out Madrid and Istanbul with a much more lavish bid for the 2020 Olympics.
But former county supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who has been pushing L.A.'s Olympic team to use UCLA and USC, is optimistic that the International Olympics Committee will look favorably at L.A.’s move. Not every country has a centralized government like China or Russia willing to subsidize the Olympics, he said.
“If they want to have games in the U.S., Canada or most democracies around the world, they have to be concerned about fiscal responsibility,” said Yaroslavsky, who now directs the L.A. Initiative at UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs and Department of History.
Jeff Millman, a spokesman for L.A. Olympics committee LA24, said Olympics officials will be impressed with the UCLA facilities as much as they would be with new construction.
“They have great rooms, great athletic facilities, incredible dining facilities,” Millman said. “They served us kale and bison.”
Millman said that UCLA became the obvious choice to place athletes after considering two dozen other places. The group’s original bid had included a plan for a new Olympic Village downtown near the L.A. River that budget analysts predicted would cost more than $1 billion to build. Millman called the proposal “more of a placeholder.”
Millman said his group has not yet started lease discussions with UCLA.
Mayor Eric Garcetti also announced Monday that the University of Southern California campus would be the site of the media village, according to the Associated Press.
The facilities of the UCLA campus would allow athletes to train where they are living, according to the AP.
Los Angeles is running for the 2024 Games against Rome, Paris and Budapest, Hungary, according to the AP. The International Olympic Committee will make the selection in 2017.
This story has been updated.