After hearing dozens of supportive speeches from former Olympic athletes, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to sign a required contract from international Olympics organizers, binding L.A. to cover cost overruns should the city be chosen to host the 2024 Games.
The contract is standard procedure for cities vying to host a future Olympics. After the vote, members of the city council posed for a photo op with Mayor Eric Garcetti.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Celebrating the city's unanimous support of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LA2024?src=hash">#LA2024</a> together with athletes, fans, and supporters! <a href="https://t.co/ag4WzfDxRi">pic.twitter.com/ag4WzfDxRi</a></p>— LA 2024 (@LA2024) <a href="https://twitter.com/LA2024/status/824353811791695873">January 25, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
“If there has ever been a show of unity, we have done that today,” City Council President Herb Wesson said.
If only this was the vote that truly mattered. That won’t come until September when the International Olympic Committee will decide between L.A., Paris, and Budapest. The council’s vote commits the city to covering the first $250 million in cost overruns. The state would cover the next $250 million and then the city would have to pick up the rest of the tab.
City leaders have expressed confidence the games would not exceed the $4.8 billion dollar budget because the bid calls for using existing facilities rather than the sorts of expensive new facilities that have caused other recent Olympics end up in the red.
“The IOC’s Host City Contract is our promise that Los Angeles is ready to host an outstanding and fiscally responsible Olympic and Paralympic Games," Garcetti said in a statement.
Since 1960, almost every Olympics has gone way over budget – by an average of 156 percent –according to a 2016 study by Oxford University. Last summer's Rio Olympics could see cost overruns of $1.6 billion, according to the study.
The exception has been the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, which ended up generating a surplus that still funds youth sports in the area. L.A. organizers of the 2024 Olympics have promised to replicate the success of '84 and all along have planned a relatively austere Olympics with a budget half or even one-third that of other recent Olympics.
The opening and closing ceremonies would be held at the NFL stadium being built in Inglewood and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum while the athlete's village would be housed at UCLA.
"We’re paying rent rather than ever-changing construction costs,” LA2024 chairman Casey Wasserman said in December.