NFL return to Los Angeles buoys bid for 2024 games

  • Thursday, January 14, 2016 1:01am
  • News

Here’s an idea almost anyone in Olympic circles would love: a $2 billion stadium they don’t have to pay for.

Leaders of the attempt to bring the 2024 Olympics to Los Angeles say they’re excited about the prospect of adding the soon-to-be-built stadium to a list of possible venues.

“LA 2024 has the luxury of selecting the best choices for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, not building them from scratch,” the bid’s chairman, Casey Wasserman, said in a statement. “And the new NFL stadium represents an opportunity to add to the array of high-quality venues we already have in our Games Plan.”

Rams owner Stan Kroenke is handling the financing, and no taxpayer money will be used on the project, which is due for completion in 2019. A free stadium that’s fully built five years before the games is music to the ears of people in the Olympic world, where the mandate is to spend less public money and build stadiums that won’t sit empty once the games end.

LA 2024’s current proposal calls for $500 million in upgrades to the Los Angeles Coliseum, which hosted track and opening and closing ceremonies in 1932 and 1984 and is presently slated to do the same.

But there’s a chance that ceremonies could be held instead at the new stadium, 10 miles away in Inglewood The new stadium will probably not have a track, but other events — possibly gymnastics, basketball, soccer or rugby — could be held there.

Predictably, no specifics are coming from bid leaders, and that speaks to the delicate and ever-changing nature of the relationship between stadium projects and Olympic bids.

New York’s bid for the 2012 Games tanked when the city’s plans for a stadium in Manhattan fell apart shortly before the vote.

Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic plans have been beset by issues over the cost of the stadium; a plan that exceeded $2 billion has been scaled back to $1.23 billion, with construction still not underway.

Back in 2006, leaders of an attempt to make San Francisco the American bidder for the 2016 Games bailed out suddenly, upon hearing news that plans for a stadium there had cratered. Since then, a stadium in Santa Clara has been built for the 49ers.

“Not having an Olympic stadium is nonstarter No. 1,” USOC’s then-vice president Bob Ctvrtlik said at the time.

That statement was as true then as it is today.

But there are few doubts that the NFL and Kroenke will deliver their project on or before its 2019 deadline, and city and Olympic officials are confident they’ll create a partnership that will allow them to use the stadium.

“The addition of this stadium is one more venue that we know will be complete and world-class in L.A. well ahead of the 2024 Games,” said Patrick Sandusky of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Los Angeles is in the race for 2024 against Paris, Rome and Budapest. The Olympics will be awarded in September 2017, about two years before the finish date for the stadium.

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