The increasing likelihood that Los Angeles will be chosen to host the 2024 Olympic Games comes as good news to the vast majority of Southern Californians.
A poll last year showed more than 80 percent of L.A. County residents either "strongly supportive" or "somewhat supportive" of the Summer Olympics coming here for the third time.
Now, if we didn't know better, we'd think the main appeal of the Olympics in your backyard would be the chance to watch the world's greatest athletes compete for sport's biggest prizes. But a Loyola Marymount University poll last year found the top reasons Angelenos want the Olympics had to do with the expectation that the event would be good for the economy, that it would create a general economic boost, create jobs and spark tourism.
Going to the Games yourself? Maybe people already realized that, like all major sports events, the most popular competitions would be unaffordable for the typical family.
That was confirmed last month when L.A.'s latest bid documents showed the average ticket for the 2024 Olympics would cost $136.87. You could get into the canoe preliminaries for $5.10. But major events? You're looking at $256 to watch athletes go for gold medals in basketball, $270 in diving, $370 in gymnastics, $420 in swimming, $457 in track and field. The much-anticipated opening ceremony? Forget it -- the average ticket would cost $1,783.
If, as projected, 97 percent of seats were sold, tickets would account for about $1.2 billion of the L.A. Olympics' $5.3 budget.
With Budapest dropping its bid, either Paris or L.A. will be chosen in September to host the 2024 Games. L.A.'s experience with the Olympics (1932, 1984) and wealth of existing venues allow it to promise a "low-cost, low-risk" bid. Mayor Eric Garcetti says the Games not only would not cost the city money but would be an economic boon, a claim backed by a Beacon
Economics/UC Riverside study in January saying the event would generate up to $11.2 billion for the economy.
Popular support would depend on the L.A. Games being a gold mine, as much fiscally as athletically. All the more reason for organizers and public officials to make sure no public expense is required.
Whether or not many Angelenos would get to see the Games themselves, they'd expect to cheer as the economic gains roll in.