Hoping to enhance Los Angeles' Olympic history rather than merely repeat it, officials of the Los Angeles 2012 Bid Committee said Tuesday their plan to stage the Summer Games here for an unprecedented third time can again create an experience that is culturally, athletically and financially enriching.
"The Olympics are coming again to Los Angeles," Mayor Richard Riordan declared during a news conference at Staples Center. "Los Angeles is truly the capital city of the world. We promise we will put on a spectacular 2012 Olympics."
Putting aside the sunny optimism generated by a brilliantly clear December day, the success of the LA2012 bid may depend more on factors beyond the committee's control than on the comprehensive plan it presented with the enthusiastic backing of Riordan and a lengthy list of local business, civic and athletic figures.
If Toronto gets the 2008 Summer Games, which will be awarded next year, the International Olympic Committee won't award the Games to another North American city in 2012. However, Olympic insiders rate Toronto's chances behind those of Beijing and Paris.
If Toronto loses in 2008 but bids for the 2012 Games, it would be a formidable candidate. A cosmopolitan city with good transportation and plentiful athletic facilities, it might win favor from IOC members who want the Games spread around.
Having withheld their highest accolade from the 1996 Atlanta Games, which were marred by the death of a spectator in the Olympic Park bombing as well as transportation and logistical snafus, IOC members might refuse to award the Summer Games to the U.S. again for quite awhile. Or they might avoid a first-time host but be open to a return to Los Angeles, which made a profit of about $1 million on the 1932 Games and $223 million in 1984 and projects a surplus of $96 million in 2012.
"The most important factor is what I call the 'sleep at night' factor," said John C. Argue, chairman of LA2012. "The USOC and IOC can sleep at night if they award the Games to Los Angeles, without worrying if we're going to get everything built or if we're going to run out of money."
However, it's unclear how changes at the top of the USOC and IOC will affect the selection process.
The USOC last weekend elected Sandra Baldwin its chair, but it has yet to detail the bid process. The IOC will elect a new president next year to replace Juan Antonio Samaranch, and among the top contenders is Dick Pound, a Canadian who might boost Toronto's bid.
Then there's fallout from the scandal-plagued organizing committee for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, which might sway IOC members against another U.S. city.
"Maybe some might [be averse]," Argue said. "But we're fortunate L.A. has a really fine tradition with the IOC. They had the Games here. Some of them competed here. They have friends here. They've given us awards. . . . We've built up a reservoir of goodwill with the IOC that's been tested in recent years."
The LA2012 bid is anything but implausible.
Its ability to use existing stadiums, arenas and college dorms assures its preparedness and will keep construction costs under $100 million. Only one venue--a shooting range--would have to be built from scratch, at Fairplex in Pomona. Two venues would require significant renovations: the Long Beach marine stadium and the Coliseum. To accommodate the opening ceremony and track and field events, the Coliseum's field would be raised 11 feet and a track would be installed, cutting seating capacity to 80,493.
"I think it's definitely a winnable effort," said David Simon, president of the Los Angeles Sports Council and a president of the LA2012 board of directors.
"We have to wait for the 2008 site to be selected to know just how strong the U.S. chances are of winning the 2012 bid. But given our history, I think we have a pretty good chance to win in the international round."
Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, New York, San Francisco, Tampa-Orlando and Washington-Baltimore are expected to send bids to the USOC by next Friday. USOC officials will make on-site inspections by the middle of next year and narrow the field to three or four, probably before the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. By the fall of 2002, the full USOC board will vote on which city will represent the U.S. in international voting.
Cincinnati's plan includes staging events in Dayton and Columbus, and it has not received a financial guarantee from state or local government for its bid. Dallas and Houston got legislative approval to use sales taxes for their bids, but their steamy, hot summer weather could work against them.
New York, which had transportation and logistical nightmares when it hosted the 1998 Goodwill Games would have to build several major venues, including a stadium on the west side of Manhattan that has drawn community opposition. A plan to build an Olympic village on prime riverfront land in Queens drew the ire of Borough President Claire Shulman. "Over my dead body," she told the New York Times.