Thursday, March 01, 2007

L.A. Olympic Bid Not Off On Right Foot

The U.S. Olympic Committee has a working group in Los Angeles this week to examine the city's bid for the 2016 Olympics, but I'm afraid that bid is already off on the wrong foot.

The idea for a $112 million temporary upgrade of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is not a good one, in my view, because it fortifies the impression in international Olympic circles that a third Olympic Games in Los Angeles would be, like the 1984 Games, an improvisational, Spartan games.

With the example of Beijing in mind, where the organizers have spared no expense to create a major impression for the 2008 Games, the International Olympic Committee is in no mood to accept a future Spartan or laid-back Games. The Los Angeles Olympic bidders have to come up with a more generous bid to secure the Games.

As things stand now, despite its miserable summer climate, Chicago may have the edge over Los Angeles in securing the U.S. Olympic Committee's selection as the American candidate for the Games. But with such cities as Rome and Rio de Janeiro in the bidding on an international level, the USOC nod may not be decisive anyway.

Chicago leads for the USOC nod because, despite the fact it has proposed a temporary main stadium, it is a city that has never hosted a Games before and that is appealing. Even with Southern California's Peter Ueberroth in position as the USOC chairman, that is an advantage that may be difficult to overcome.

It remains true that U.S. television is the primary commercial sponsorship for the Olympics, and normally that means that every few years an Olympics will be sent to an American city.

But the IOC has no ingrained love for the U.S. Its membership remembers the Los Angeles Games as not all that hospitable to Olympic bigwigs, and Atlanta as a rather lousy games. Right now, unless this thinking is changed, I don't believe the prospects for bringing the 2016 Games back to the U.S. are all that good.

Also, the L.A. bid, as it presently stands, needs to bring in more Hollywood celebrity power. Hollywood celebrities do appeal to the USOC and IOC. The lawyers who lead the present L.A. bid committee are not all that impressive.

In the Yorty Administration, when Los Angeles was soliciting the 1980 Olympics, there are reports that it offered as an incentive to the IOC inspection committee, a flight to Las Vegas and even Las Vegas prostitutes. That need not be done now, since the IOC is so old and decrepit.

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