Sorry, LA, But You’re Hosting the Olympics

 
The new Olympics aquatics center in Rio de Janeiro, six months after the games.

On Monday, the International Olympics Committee “awarded” the 2024 Summer Games to Paris and the 2028 Summer Games to Los Angeles. The leaders of both cities were thrilled at the announcement, pointing to the honor, legacy, and other unmeasurable vagaries the Olympics will bring. But hosting the five-ring circus hasn’t worked out well in modern history:

“Like anything worth fighting for, this was a long journey,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “Little by little, we got a victory.”

After the membership gave the cities a standing ovation, IOC President Thomas Bach added: “It is really this win-win-win situation we were all together looking for.”

Bach and Garcetti sat at a long table where the mayor signed the “host city contract,” obligating L.A. to serve as a financial backstop, paying off any debts should the estimated $5.3-billion sporting event run over budget.

Cost overruns have been a constant companion to the Olympics. The most recent Summer Games in Rio famously blasted through budgets, resulting in economic and political turmoil that helped oust Brazil’s president before her term was up. (And now her successor is under investigation for corruption.)

Sochi (2014) came in 289 percent over budget, Lake Placid (1980) was 324 percent over budget, and Montreal (1976) ended up a staggering 720 percent over budget. The average overrun for Summer Games is 176 percent. From FiveThirtyEight:

The numbers above come from a new study led by Bent Flyvbjerg at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, who looked at six decades of Olympic budgets. It wasn’t easy — detailed cost overrun data is only available for 19 of the 30 games taking place since 1960, a paucity which Flyvbjerg and his colleagues found galling. “It means — incredible as it may sound — that for more than a third of the games between 1960 and 2016 no one seems to know what the cost overrun was,” they wrote….

“For a city and nation to decide to stage the Olympics Games is to decide to take on one of the most costly and financially most risky type of megaproject[s] that exists,” Flyvbjerg and company wrote, “something that many cities and nations have learned to their peril.”

Fortunately for Angelenos, a grassroots group called NOlympics LA is continuing their effort to stop the games. “The notion that ‘L.A. is going to have the Olympics, one way or another’ isn’t necessarily true, as many opportunities still exist to intervene and stop them entirely.”

They have an uphill battle, but those living in the city better hope they succeed.

There are 26 comments.

  1. Thatcher

    Solution: LA needs to hire Mitt Romney.

    • #1
    • September 13, 2017 at 4:15 pm
    • 6 likes
  2. Member

    The entire Olympic pageantry is literally Nazi propaganda, as in invented by Hitler to advertise the Reich. Can we get congress to pass a pointless law condemning it?

    I demand that moral panics be internally consistent.

    • #2
    • September 13, 2017 at 4:18 pm
    • 8 likes
  3. Member

    Contrary to the OP, LA is getting the 2028 Olympics; not the 2024.

    I don’t know how LA fared economically in the 1984 Olympics – Peter Uberoff’s name comes to mind as the organizer with positive reviews. I seem to remember the out of town guests not arriving in the anticipated numbers; it was largely a “home crowd”.

    I knew many people on various committees with catastrophe being predicted regarding traffic and security. Regarding those two particular issues LA was a dream for locals.

    • #3
    • September 13, 2017 at 4:22 pm
    • 1 like
  4. Thatcher

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Sorry, LA, But You’re Hosting the Olympics

    Serves ’em right.

    • #4
    • September 13, 2017 at 4:24 pm
    • 3 likes
  5. Contributor

    Where are they gonna put the massive numbers of tent dwellers who now cover DTLA like a tapestry? And how will they finance it?

    Only a matter of time before LA’s already insanely high 10 percent sales tax must be raised… You know, for the children.

    • #5
    • September 13, 2017 at 4:25 pm
    • 7 likes
  6. Member

    C. U. Douglas (View Comment):
    Solution: LA needs to hire Mitt Romney.

    Yep. Mitt saved the Salt Lake City winter games and they even came in at a profit.

    According to Wikipedia (yeah, I know…) no Olympics from 1936-1980 made a profit. The LA games in 1984 did. They claim that some other recent Olympics made money (like Sochi and Beijing???) but I’m not buying it.

    The beneficiaries, though, will be people who can sublet their houses for tens of thousands of dollars for a few weeks and anybody who owns land that they can sell under eminent domain (after the sudden price increase, of course).

    • #6
    • September 13, 2017 at 4:28 pm
    • 2 likes
  7. Contributor

    C. U. Douglas (View Comment):
    Solution: LA needs to hire Mitt Romney.

    Or a bunch of Calgarians. That would work as well.

    • #7
    • September 13, 2017 at 4:46 pm
    • 2 likes
  8. Member

    There are two cities on the planet that have the basic capability to host the Summer Olympics.

    By that, I mean they have:

    1. Hotel space for 100,000 visitors
    2. Capability to move that many people around during the games
    3. Open land to build a few large arenas and other event spaces, or existing space they can use

    Those two cities are Las Vegas and Orlando.

    But for some reason, nobody from those places ever seems to get around to putting together a serious bid.

    I think it’s because people in Vegas know how money works, and people in Orlando know how the Olympics works – or doesn’t work.

    • #8
    • September 13, 2017 at 6:01 pm
    • 8 likes
  9. Thatcher

    I would like to see President Trump announce that the United States Government is too far in debt, so the Feds will not be able to support the Los Angeles Olympics, and it will be entirely up to the city of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, and the State of California.

    • #9
    • September 13, 2017 at 6:09 pm
    • 7 likes
  10. Member

    Christopher Dempsey became quite famous in the Boston area for leading the charge against Boston bidding for the Olympics. Mitt Romney was behind the idea, so it might have actually worked if he had managed it. He did a great job in Salt Lake City. But the Olympics are a burden to a city, especially an old city like Boston.

    Interesting: a reporter has just dug up this old story and retold it. :)

    • #10
    • September 13, 2017 at 6:13 pm
    • Like
  11. Coolidge

    Go to Reason Tv for a couple good videos on the cost, and lack of benefits, of hosting the Olympics.

    • #11
    • September 13, 2017 at 6:19 pm
    • 1 like
  12. Member

    JcTPatriot (View Comment):
    I would like to see President Trump announce that the United States Government is too far in debt, so the Feds will not be able to support the Los Angeles Olympics, and it will be entirely up to the city of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, and the State of California.

    Hear hear! By the time the games roll around, I will be gone – to someplace in The Neutral Zone…er…the Rockies.

    • #12
    • September 13, 2017 at 9:47 pm
    • 4 likes
  13. Member

    Solution: Offer to host the winter Olympics in LA. No venues, no cost.

    Or, maybe scrap the bullet train to cover the cost of the Olympics.

    • #13
    • September 13, 2017 at 10:48 pm
    • 3 likes
  14. Member

    Let’s play a game. Would you rather have the Olympics in your city, or a hurricane hit your city.

    Answer: A hurricane. It’s cheaper and less of a hassle. either way they’re both disasters. Just one isn’t natural.

    • #14
    • September 14, 2017 at 5:07 am
    • 2 likes
  15. Member

    Annefy (View Comment):
    Contrary to the OP, LA is getting the 2028 Olympics; not the 2024.

    I don’t know how LA fared economically in the 1984 Olympics – Peter Uberoff’s name comes to mind as the organizer with positive reviews. I seem to remember the out of town guests not arriving in the anticipated numbers; it was largely a “home crowd”.

    I knew many people on various committees with catastrophe being predicted regarding traffic and security. Regarding those two particular issues LA was a dream for locals.

    That was certainly my experience. In 50 years of living in Los Angeles, I never saw traffic so light as during the Olympics. I think everyone left town.

    LA is unique among possible Olympic host cities, in that it already has (or will have) all of the infrastructure. Almost nothing will need to be built. There will be at least five stadiums (that I can think of, off the top of my head) that hold more than 50,000 people. There are at least a dozen facilities that can host basketball and volleyball games. In 1984, the UCLA dorms were repurposed as an Olympic Village, and that worked very well. The Paris Olympics will probably be a financial disaster, but I would be surprised in the LA Olympics run over budget.

    • #15
    • September 14, 2017 at 6:08 am
    • 1 like
  16. Member

    When you give politicians a chance to bid on a multi-billion dollar hunk of cash, you get all the stated results. This is like MLB and the NFL asking for bids on a combined and simultaneous World Series and Super Bowl — the lies and distortions and promises would be outlandish.

    • #16
    • September 14, 2017 at 8:00 am
    • Like
  17. Inactive

    I thought the point of giving the Olympics to L.A. was that they already have the facilities in place.

    • #17
    • September 14, 2017 at 9:04 am
    • 1 like
  18. Member

    Doesn’t really matter. Most likely California will be the Republic of Antifa by then. Let them worry about it.

    • #18
    • September 14, 2017 at 9:09 am
    • Like
  19. Member

    Larry3435 (View Comment):
    LA is unique among possible Olympic host cities, in that it already has (or will have) all of the infrastructure. Almost nothing will need to be built.

    …other than a drastic lack of hotel rooms?

    The minimum number of available rooms to win an Olympic bid is supposed to be on the order of 45,000 rooms, which lets LA slip by – barely. Unfortunately, if the games are as well-attended as the “failed” Rio Games, that’s not going to be anywhere near enough.

    At the very least, now that LA has the big, they can start building the extra 30,000 or so rooms they need. This is also, by a strange coincidence, approximately the number they’d need to handle the theoretical extra traffic from the California High Speed Rail traffic.

    • #19
    • September 14, 2017 at 10:44 am
    • Like
  20. Member

    AirBnB will pick up the slack. Anyway, any reason to think the 2028 Olympics will be so different than the 1984 Olympics which boasted a large “home crowd”?

    Like @davesussman, it’s the homeless population that I wonder about. Before Waze, it was pretty easy to keep us all herded onto the same thoroughfares and freeways. In the last two years I’ve seen parts of LA I hadn’t even heard of and the tent communities are many.

    My husband uses Waze daily on his long and awful commute – as a cynic he is convinced that it’s not long before Waze directs him into a part of town he’d rather avoid, then charge him for an escape route.

    • #20
    • September 14, 2017 at 12:21 pm
    • Like
  21. Member

    cirby (View Comment):

    At the very least, now that LA has the big, they can start building the extra 30,000 or so rooms they need. This is also, by a strange coincidence, approximately the number they’d need to handle the theoretical extra traffic from the California High Speed Rail traffic.

    Extra traffic from the California High Speed Rail? That would be theoretical indeed. My guess is that if you took everyone who ever rides on that thing, they would all fit into a Motel 6 with room to spare. That is assuming, of course, that it ever gets built at all.

    • #21
    • September 14, 2017 at 1:57 pm
    • Like
  22. Member

    cirby (View Comment):
    The minimum number of available rooms to win an Olympic bid is supposed to be on the order of 45,000 rooms, which lets LA slip by – barely.

    I suspect that your number is for the City of Los Angeles, which is not what anyone in Los Angeles means when they speak of Los Angeles. The County of Los Angeles, which is what counts, has just shy of 100,000 rooms. Remember, Los Angeles County includes over 100 cities such as Beverly Hills, Long Beach, Pasadena, and so on. Also, Orange County (which is in pretty easy driving distance to attend a sporting event – trust me, I have driven to a lot of Angels games) has a huge hotel capacity.

    • #22
    • September 14, 2017 at 2:06 pm
    • Like
  23. Member

    Larry3435 (View Comment):
    I suspect that your number is for the City of Los Angeles, which is not what anyone in Los Angeles means when they speak of Los Angeles. The County of Los Angeles, which is what counts, has just shy of 100,000 rooms.

    Los Angeles itself has about 25,000 actual rooms.

    Add in the close cities like Burbank, and you could get to about 50,000.

    To get 100,000, you have to include all of the county, Long Beach, San Berdoo, and pretty much everything within a hundred miles.

    In useful terms, though, they have about 50,000.

    • #23
    • September 14, 2017 at 3:27 pm
    • Like
  24. Member

    Larry3435 (View Comment):
    Extra traffic from the California High Speed Rail? That would be theoretical indeed.

    That is indeed why I used that term.

    If the CHSR actually generates the number of trips they pretend they will, that means there will need to be at LEAST 30,000 more hotel rooms available at each end of the line – which means 30,000 new rooms in LA plus 30,000 similar rooms in San Francisco. Which is not ever, ever going to happen, given the governing principles of SF…

    • #24
    • September 14, 2017 at 3:29 pm
    • Like
  25. Member

    cirby (View Comment):

    Larry3435 (View Comment):
    I suspect that your number is for the City of Los Angeles, which is not what anyone in Los Angeles means when they speak of Los Angeles. The County of Los Angeles, which is what counts, has just shy of 100,000 rooms.

    Los Angeles itself has about 25,000 actual rooms.

    Add in the close cities like Burbank, and you could get to about 50,000.

    To get 100,000, you have to include all of the county, Long Beach, San Berdoo, and pretty much everything within a hundred miles.

    In useful terms, though, they have about 50,000.

    @cirby, I think you are a little confused about your geography. Most of the major cities in Los Angeles County are within 10 miles of downtown. These include Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Burbank, Glendale, and Pasadena. The beach cities, including Long Beach, are all within a 15 mile radius of downtown. San Bernardino is a separate county. To get a hundred miles away from downtown Los Angeles you would have to go almost halfway to San Diego, or up to Santa Barbara. And, of course, a lot of the facilities that would host Olympic events are in or close to these secondary cities, such as the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

    • #25
    • September 17, 2017 at 9:23 am
    • Like
  26. Member

    Larry3435 (View Comment):

    cirby (View Comment):

    Larry3435 (View Comment):
    I suspect that your number is for the City of Los Angeles, which is not what anyone in Los Angeles means when they speak of Los Angeles. The County of Los Angeles, which is what counts, has just shy of 100,000 rooms.

    Los Angeles itself has about 25,000 actual rooms.

    Add in the close cities like Burbank, and you could get to about 50,000.

    To get 100,000, you have to include all of the county, Long Beach, San Berdoo, and pretty much everything within a hundred miles.

    In useful terms, though, they have about 50,000.

    @cirby, I think you are a little confused about your geography. Most of the major cities in Los Angeles County are within 10 miles of downtown. These include Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Burbank, Glendale, and Pasadena. The beach cities, including Long Beach, are all within a 15 mile radius of downtown. San Bernardino is a separate county. To get a hundred miles away from downtown Los Angeles you would have to go almost halfway to San Diego, or up to Santa Barbara. And, of course, a lot of the facilities that would host Olympic events are in or close to these secondary cities, such as the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

    No, I’m not confused at all.

    However, you’re making the huge mistake of believing PR claims, without first-hand experience in dealing with cities for major convention and meeting services.

    The problem you’re not seeing is how they count “hotel rooms.” Generally, when second-tier convention cities add up their “hotel rooms,” they do some really creative accounting, including counting “beds” instead of “rooms,” or counting “rooms within driving distance” while not mentioning that they consider that to be an hour’s drive – at two AM.

    In real-world, effective terms, Los Angeles/Hollywood/Anaheim has about 50,000 actual hotel rooms – unless you add the “metro area,” which gets them up to the 100,000 range. Basically, yes, they’re counting everything halfway to San Diego, and certainly all the way out to San Bernardino.

    • #26
    • September 17, 2017 at 6:09 pm
    • Like