LA Officials Say Olympics Would Bring City $7 Billion

Friday, March 30th 2007, 5:05 pm
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Landing the 2016 Olympics would be a financial bonanza for the city of Los Angeles, bringing in more than $7 billion in revenue and creating nearly 70,000 jobs, city officials said Friday.

The revenue would be generated in large part by an estimated 877,000 out-of-town tourists expected to visit Los Angeles during the games and stay at its hotels, dine at its restaurants and go home laden with souvenirs. People would purchase as many as 6.2 million tickets to various Olympic events, according to the report.

``Bringing the games to Los Angeles will mean Olympic gold for every community in our city,'' Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said, stating the $7 billion figure twice for emphasis.

Los Angeles and Chicago are the two U.S. finalists to host the 2016 games, with the United States Olympic Committee scheduled to recommend one to the International Olympic Committee on April 14. The international group will select a city in 2009 from a worldwide list of candidates.

According to the firm Economic Research Associates, which prepared the report, bringing the Olympics to Los Angeles would create 67,825 full-time jobs, many of them in the hospitality and transportation industry. Many would remain after the games, officials said, although they didn't give a figure.

``It's something that will change the tourism profile of our great destination city for a long time,'' Barry Sanders, who heads the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games, told a City Hall news conference.

The $7 billion revenue figure is a conservative one and is based not on 2016 dollars but on 2007 ones, said David Wilcox, the report's lead author. He said his company helped prepare financial estimates for such Olympic host cities as Lake Placid, N.Y., Salt Lake City, Beijing and Los Angeles in 1984.

The current Los Angeles revenue estimate is more than double the $3 billion the 1984 Olympics brought to the city.

That event ended with a budget surplus of $235 million, more than $90 million of which was donated to youth sports organizations throughout Southern California, Villaraigosa said.

``We have an opportunity to leave an even greater economic legacy in 2016,'' he added.

Sanders said a 2016 Olympics would also bless the city in other ways.

``There are going to be parties in every neighborhood, all the communities of Los Angeles, at no charge,'' he said. ``We'll have inexpensive tickets throughout the games subsidized by those expensive tickets. We'll have free tickets for young people who couldn't otherwise come to the games. It's going to let everybody come to the games.''

Villaraigosa and others also took the opportunity to plug Los Angeles as the perfect multicultural city for an Olympics. Seemingly to drive their point home, the mayor and City Council President Eric Garcetti repeated their remarks in Spanish.

``We are the diversity capital of the world,'' Garcetti said. ``Never before in the history of humanity have so many cultures been in one place, and after all that is what the Olympic movement is all about.''