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L.A. makes a case for the Olympics

Revenue of $7 billion, plus jobs and tourism: The economic forecast is touted as Angelenos are asked to back the city's bid for the 2016 Games.

March 31, 2007|Charles Proctor | Times Staff Writer

Hosting the 2016 Olympics would bring at least $7 billion to the Los Angeles area and provide about 67,825 full- and part-time jobs, according to an economic forecast released Friday.

Los Angeles officials touted the report as a reason for Angelenos to line up behind the city's Olympic campaign. Los Angeles is vying with Chicago to be the U.S. bid in the international competition to hold the Summer Games.

According to the study, the Olympics would attract about 877,000 visitors, who would spend money on area hotels, restaurants and transportation but also possibly strain the city's clogged streets and freeways.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said traffic should be alleviated by the planned construction of carpool lanes on the 5 and 405 freeways and rail lines to the city's east side and Santa Monica. He also pointed out that other cities expected to compete for the games -- including Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid -- also have congestion problems.

"If you look at the cities around the world, they all have traffic issues," Villaraigosa said during a morning news conference with members of the City Council and the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games. "We'll deal with them."

The $7-billion estimate far outweighs the $177 million in private funds that would be spent to upgrade venues for the games. Plans include $35 million to enhance the Long Beach Marine Stadium and $112 million to add temporary renovations to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The City Council on Friday also promised $250 million toward the International Olympic Committee's requirement of $500 million to back the games; state officials have pledged the rest. City officials said the money is to be used only if private funds and revenues from the Games dry up.

The estimate released Friday is a conservative one and does not account for inflation, said David Wilcox, one of the primary authors of the study and a senior vice president with Economic Research Associates, which conducted the analysis.

The study also did not take into account the economic effect the Olympics might have on other parts of California and Nevada, Wilcox said.

City officials noted that the last time Los Angeles held the Olympics -- in 1984 -- a $235-million surplus remained in its Olympic budget, about $90 million of which was distributed to local charities and community groups.

The U.S. Olympic Committee will decide between Chicago and Los Angeles on April 14. The winning city will then enter into a 2 1/2 -year bidding process with other cities from around the world.

"We feel great," said Barry Sanders, chairman of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games, who also praised the cooperation between city officials and his committee. "This has been a public-private partnership in the truest sense of the word."

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