LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has formally notified the U.S. Olympic Committee of the city's interest in being a candidate for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The USOC is weighing whether to bid for the 2024 Games after sitting out a bid process for the 2020 Games that took place against the backdrop of a bitter seven-year dispute between the USOC and the International Olympic Committee over the distribution of U.S. television and sponsorship revenues.
"On behalf of the City of Los Angeles, its business, sport, and community leadership, as well as its citizens, it is with great enthusiasm that we communicate our deep interest in bidding for and hosting the 2024 Olympic Games," Villaraigosa wrote in a letter to USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun this week.
Should the USOC decide to move forward, a privately funded Los Angeles bid would emphasize the city's Olympic history, having hosted the 1932 and the record-setting 1984 Games, the region's cultural diversity, and an extensive network of existing facilities stretching from downtown Los Angeles into Orange County.
"We have an international population that I think would embrace the Games," David Simon, president of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games, said in interview Thursday.
Simon and Villaraigosa already have lined up support for a third Summer Olympics in Los Angeles among the region's entertainment and corporate power brokers. Disney CEO Robert Iger, AEG CEO Tim Leiweke, Mattel chairman Bryan Stockton, Magic Johnson, the face of the Dodgers' ownership group and himself an Olympic gold medalist, actor Tom Hanks as well as Olympic swimming champion Janet Evans all signed a letter to the USOC supporting a Los Angeles bid.
In reaching a revenue sharing deal last May with the IOC that runs through 2040, USOC chairman Larry Probst said the organization hoped the agreement "removed a road block from a successful bid for the United States." The drawn out battle over U.S. revenues, USOC and IOC officials said, was a significant obstacle to unsuccessful bids by New York for the 2012 Games and Chicago the 2016 Olympics. USOC officials will decide by late 2014 whether to bid for the 2024 Games. Last month the USOC sent letters to the 25 largest U.S. markets and other cities that had previously expressed an interest in hosting the Games to gauge interest in a 2024 bid.
Los Angeles made high-profile but ultimately unsuccessful runs at both the 2012 and 2016 Games, failing to make the final round of U.S. candidates in 2012 and then losing to Chicago in the 2016 USOC process. While Villaraigosa and Leiweke have repeatedly trumpeted Farmers Field, the proposed $1.5 billion, AEG-operated stadium project adjacent to Staples Center and LA Live, as the anchor to a Los Angeles Games, Simon said the city's bid for 2024 would not be dependent on the completion of the project.
"Farmers Field would enhance it," Simon said of a potential Los Angeles bid. "But the bid would move forward without it. We have enough existing facilities."
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