The Olympic Games are among the planet's biggest boondoggles, routinely plunging host cities and countries into rivers of red ink. That's one of the main reasons fewer and fewer cities compete to host them.
But don't tell that to Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, the city that will be hosting the 2028 Summer Games. The Los Angeles Times reports that Garcetti is promising a record profit of $1 billion from what will be the City of Angels' third time putting on the Olympics.
"I believe it to be very realistic," he said. "There is no question we will be in the high hundreds of millions."
Such a surplus would be unprecedented in the history of the Olympics, in an era when high costs have scared off cities from bidding to host the Games. The 1984 L.A. Games turned a reported $223-million profit. The 1988 Seoul Games reported a record $479-million profit, although observers said then that the figure did not account for all facility construction.
To put it bluntly, Garcetti is delusional. While the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles turned a profit of (60 percent of which was turned over to the United States Olympic Committee), many of the revenue opportunities that once existed for hosts have been usurped over the past decades by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which gets at least half of all revenue (like all good criminal organizations, the IOC doesn't wait for profits). The L.A. organizers of the '84 games faced all sorts of fiscal constraints that tied their hands when it came to building new facilities and spending money. That same of cheapness by necessity is unlikely to obtain as L.A. prepares for its next moment in the sun and the predictable result will be a loss for the host city. Politicians such as Garcetti have a tough time resisting their "edifice complex" despite the dismal economic track record of the Olympics and other big-ticket, sports-related money pits.
At least Los Angeles will join some other fine cities in losing money on the Olympics. From 2017, here's one of Reason's most popular videos of all time, "Five Cities That Got F*cked By Hosting the Olympics":