Boston’s Olympic Loss Could Spell Win for L.A.

Now that the U.S. Olympic Committee has dropped Boston’s bid for the 2024 Summer Games, Los Angeles is emerging as the back-up city.

“Los Angeles could bid with a couple of years notice,” said Andrew Zimbalist, a professor of economics at Smith College and the author of “Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup.” “They don’t need seven years notice. They have almost all their venues already intact.”

In a statement Monday the committee's CEO, Scott Blackmun, said the federation was still interested in mounting a bid for the Summer Games. He did not mention a specific city.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that his office had not had recent conversations with the U.S. Olympic Committee.

"I continue to believe that Los Angeles is the ideal Olympic city and we have always supported the USOC in their effort to return the Games to the United States," he said in a statement. "I would be happy to engage in discussions with the USOC about how to present the strongest and most fiscally responsible bid on behalf of our city and nation."

The U.S. Olympic Commitee ended Boston's bid after Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said at a Monday morning press conference that he was not ready to sign a host city document that would force taxpayers to cover any cost overruns. The U.S. Olympic Committee had wanted him to sign the contract as soon as possible, he said. But he said he would not without more financial information about the Games and was willing to let the committee choose another city over Boston.

The host city contract, which does not need to be signed until 2017, guarantees that the International Olympic Committee will not be held responsible for any cost overruns.

The U.S. Olympic Committee’s board members had also wanted to know whether Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker supported Boston’s bid. Baker spoke to committee officials on Monday but said beforehand that he would have no answer for them because he was waiting to see a full report from a consultant commissioned to analyze the bid.

The deadline to officially submit bids to the International Olympic Committee is Sept. 15. San Francisco and Washington D.C. also competed to be the U.S. selection. A source told NBC Bay Area that it was now too late for San Francisco to submit a bid that could win. Jack Evans, a D.C. council member, said that the city was still vying to be chosen.

“We in the District would still be very interested," Evans said.

Officials from the U.S. Olympic Committee could not immediately be reached for comment.

Earlier Alan Abrahamson, a sportswriter, said that the U.S. Olympic Committee ought to kill Boston’s bid, Abrahamson, a journalism professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, called it the most dismal effort he had seen in 16 years of covering the Olympics.

“Los Angeles is America’s Olympic city,” said Abrahamson, who wrote a column on the topic on his website, 3 Wire Sports. “It hosted the Games twice in 1932 and 1984. The Games are a part of the fabric of civic life in Los Angeles.”

Politicians, businesses and the people of California are behind the Olympics, he said. And like Zimbalist, he said Los Angeles could be ready with little notice.

“Los Angeles could host the Games on maybe two years notice and do a fantastic job,” he said.

Before Boston's bid derailed, Zimbalist said that Baker’s position was key because the state not Boston would have to be the Games’ guarantor.

“Nobody ever expected Boston to actually provide a guarantee,” he said. “They don’t have the resources to do it. Their budget is much too small.”

Zimbalist said that he thought Walsh, who had been closely affiliated with the pro-Olympics group, was trying to cover himself should the U.S. Olympic Committee reject Boston.

“I think that he’s trying to step out in front of that train and say, ‘I was first, I never wanted to put the Boston’s taxpayers at risk,’” Zimbalist said.

Boston’s bid had been expected to go to a statewide referendum next year. The organizers had said that if the majority of voters in Massachusetts and Boston did not vote in favor of it they would pull the bid. A group, No Boston Olympics, had formed in opposition to hosting the Games.

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