Why L.A. lost the 2016 Olympic bid

My first clue that L.A.'s bid for the 2016 Olympics was doomed came in February, when I interviewed Barry Sanders, the bow-tie-wearing attorney who served as the head of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games, for LAObserved. My first question was the obligatory softball: "What was your favorite memory from the 1984 Los Angeles Games?" After stammering for a sentence or two about the Opening Ceremonies, Sanders proceeded to wax eloquent about the mega-dollar sponsorship deal he helped put together with Coca-Cola. I'm not sure what surprised me most: that an attorney of Sanders' reputation seemed flummoxed by such a basic question or that he wasn't able to summon the wherewithal to mention something about, say, Mary Lou Retton or Carl Lewis or Michael Jordan or Greg Louganis or Joan Benoit.

Sanders and SCCOG treated the bid as a business deal to cinch. And, that's where they went astray. They marshaled the better arguments –- unlike Chicago, L.A. wouldn't have to spend much money to build new facilities; unlike Chicago, L.A. has a proven track record -– but their bid completely ignored the emotional, creative soul that defines the Olympic Games. Let's face it: any time you bring in "Hollywood" to add pizzazz and capture the youth demographic, you're in trouble. Not to mention the stiflingly boring "re-imagining" of the Coliseum.

As the Times' Helene Elliott so accurately wrote: "[L.A.'s bid] wasn't lacking in numbers. It was lacking in spirit, devoid of the innovation, enthusiasm and imagination for which Los Angeles was famous."

April 15, 2007 10:12 AM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor

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