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New York's Screen Time

City's bid for 2012 Olympics pivots this week on the need to secure approval for a West Side stadium.

May 31, 2005|Alan Abrahamson | Times Staff Writer

Before he became mayor of New York, Michael R. Bloomberg made himself a billionaire. He didn't get to be a billionaire by being bashful about what, in his view, needs to get done and by when.

Last September, for instance, asked at the New York Jets' home opener about the city's proposal for a stadium on the far West Side of Manhattan, the centerpiece of New York's bid for the 2012 Olympics, Bloomberg said: "I have to be able to look the IOC in the eye and say this stadium is going to get built."

The International Olympic Committee picks the 2012 site on July 6 in Singapore. New York is competing against Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow. Bloomberg also said in September that if the stadium plans haven't received the needed approvals, "I've got to call the IOC and say, 'Don't come.' "

Nine months later, the stadium still has not secured the needed approvals. This week, its fate, and that of the New York bid, hang in the balance -- just days before the release of an IOC evaluation of the five cities that will underscore what experts already know: a New York Games would prove a financial blockbuster, in no small measure for the IOC itself.

According to budget statements submitted to the IOC, a New York Olympics in 2012 would generate more than $3 billion in revenues and $153 million in royalty payments to the IOC from sponsorship and ticket revenues -- about $40 million more for the IOC than London or Paris would yield and $70 million more than Madrid. The IOC would reap the lowest payout from Moscow's proposed low-budget Olympics, though a precise figure could not be determined from budget statements.

New York's projected royalty payments amount to nearly double the IOC's $87-million budget for 2005. Some say the $3 billion in revenue is a conservative estimate for a region that is home to 83 Fortune 500 companies -- one whose bid has drawn contributions exceeding $100,000 from more than 100 companies.

If, as some believe, the selection of a host city is driven as much by direct economic benefit as by the broader marketing firepower of the five-ringed brand, New York's appeal is plain -- for instance, in its ability to help promote the 28 Summer Games sports in the U.S. in the seven-year run-up to 2012 through a panel run by NBA Commissioner David Stern.

So while the Beijing Olympics in 2008 are a marketer's dream -- entree into a significantly untapped market of more than 1 billion people -- a New York Games only four years later would be the next step, all but certain to attract and cement the "next generation of [top-tier] sponsors," said Rob Prazmark of IMG, a longtime Olympic marketing expert.

Paris, however, has long been considered the front-runner in the 2012 race, in part because the 115-member IOC is dominated by Europeans. Also, Paris has bid twice before in recent years and lost; the IOC likes to reward good sports who keep trying. Athens won for 2004 after losing the 1996 Games to Atlanta.

In addition, Paris has run a deliberate campaign that features the use of lower-cost temporary venues -- a template for IOC President Jacques Rogge's idea that the Olympics, perhaps as soon as 2016, could venture for the first time to Africa or South America.

London has run an aggressive campaign based in large measure on a sweeping redevelopment of the city's East Side. Madrid enjoys the influential backing of former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch. Moscow is widely considered a longshot.

New York's bid, cultivated in IOC circles through quiet one-on-one talks with individual members, has faced one overarching uncertainty: the stadium. The meeting of a little-known New York state oversight agency, the Public Authorities Control Board, is likely this week, perhaps Friday; it represents the final hurdle in an approvals process nearly a dozen steps long.

In addition, a New York court has signaled an intent this week, possibly Thursday, to take up legal challenges already filed to the plan.

Monday, the IOC is due to issue its evaluation of the five cities. If the stadium plan isn't approved by then, or at the least soon thereafter, New York's chances are all but doomed, as bid, city and U.S. Olympic Committee officials acknowledge.

In the aftermath of last year's Athens Games, which were plagued by construction delays and cost overruns, the prevailing view is that the IOC "simply will not take the risk of awarding the Games to a city that has not secured the necessary approvals for this marquee venue," USOC board chairman Peter Ueberroth said in a May 5 letter to New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Ueberroth added that "failure to have this approval would grievously damage New York's Olympic bid and America's Olympic movement."

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