Business & Economy

Olympics bid book says Jerry Brown supported state 'financial guarantee' for 2024 Games (updated)

Brown wrote a letter four-sentence letter to Larry Probst, Chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee, in December expressing his support of Los Angeles or San Francisco hosting the games while avoiding any specifics about finances.
Brown wrote a letter four-sentence letter to Larry Probst, Chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee, in December expressing his support of Los Angeles or San Francisco hosting the games while avoiding any specifics about finances.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Listen to story

00:46
Download this story 0.0MB

This post has been updated to include a comment from Mayor Garcetti's spokesperson

In its pitch to host the 2024 Olympic Games, Los Angeles officials told the U.S. Olympic Committee that Governor Jerry Brown had "expressed support for a state financial guarantee for the Games."

But, one day after that pitch booklet was made public, it is not clear if Brown actually made such a statement.

The line was deep in the 218-page "bid book" Los Angeles Olympics organizers prepared for the U.S. Olympic Committee. The guarantee is mentioned in a section of the booklet where organizers detail widespread political support for the games, though no one from the Governor's or Mayor's office could say when Brown expressed such support.

"The sentence you quote re: a 'state financial guarantee' is not accurate," Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Governor Brown, wrote in an e-mail, while adding that Brown's administration has stated its "general support" for a bid.

Westrup called back later, and told KPCC it was too early to be discussing a backstop.

"A discussion regarding a state guarantee would be premature at this point,” Westrup said.

While Brown's position on giving L.A. a state financial guarantee is unclear, the power to approve a guarantee like this does not rest solely with him. It would need to pass the state legislature, and would likely have limits. For example, in 2007, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation that promised the state would cover up to $250 million in cost overruns in the event that L.A. won the 2016 Games.

Jeff Millman, a top Garcetti aide who just took a leave of absence from the mayor's office to join the private committee organizing L.A.'s bid, would not say when Brown offered the guarantee.

"We had initial conversations with the Governor and his team last year when this bid book was created and look forward to discussions with him and other state leaders if the U.S. Olympic Committee selects Los Angeles," Millman wrote in an e-mail.

"The Mayor continues to work with our state leaders and the Governor to ensure the best possible state guarantee for the 2024 bid," Connie Llanos, a Press Secretary for Garcetti wrote Wednesday night.

Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson did not respond to requests for comment. 

Brown sent a four-sentence letter to Larry Probst, chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), in December expressing his support of Los Angeles or San Francisco hosting the games, but avoided any mention of finances.

"As these regions compete to host the games, both bids will have the full support of the entire state behind them," Brown wrote.

San Francisco's nascent Olympics bid was officially put to rest earlier this month, when the USOC said Los Angeles' was its choice to host the games after Boston dropped out of the running because of concerns about cost overruns. 

Los Angeles organizers are projecting a $161 million surplus for a 2024 Los Angeles Olympics, though some analysts say that figure may be overly optimistic.

"Most of the revenue numbers are on the high side of what we have experienced in recent Olympics," said Victor Matheson, a sports economist at College of the Holy Cross. "You'd have to have an Olympics that did significantly better than ones in the past — not something that's not achievable, but something you have to be lucky to do."

City council forms Olympic committee

The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to establish the "Ad Hoc Committee on the 2024 Summer Olympics," which will have its first meeting on Friday morning.

The committee, chaired by Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, will examine contracts related to the games.

“The City Council desires to present the most fiscally-responsible and competitive Olympic bid on behalf of Los Angeles, a two-time host city of the Summer Games,” Wesson said in a written statement. “We cannot let our excitement trump our responsibility to the taxpayers and must ensure all documents have been thoroughly vetted by the newly-created ad hoc committee on the 2024 Olympics.”

Document