Officials hoping to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to Los Angeles are proposing to house athletes in dormitories on the UCLA campus, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday night. With the city no longer on the hook for constructing a brand new Olympic village, the move could save a billion dollars or more.
A previous plan to build a village to house about 16,500 athletes, coaches and team officials from scratch at an L.A. rail yard could have cost up to an estimated $2 billion, a L.A. councilman warned in a November meeting. The shift to UCLA represents a major discount, since the accommodations, which officials praised for their quality, are largely already in place.
"This is the right answer for the city," LA 2024 Chairman Casey Wasserman said, according to the L.A. Times. "It's the right answer for the bid."
— LA 2024 (@LA2024) January 26, 2016
The shift to the UCLA dorms was also sold as a better alternative for athletes, who would have access to the college's track and field stadium, swimming pools, dining halls and other amenities. Officials said the dorms at UCLA would be focused on the competitors, rather than a designed village.
"Oftentimes, Olympic villages have been thought through by urban planners, rather from athletes up," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said while talking about the 419-acre UCLA campus, according to the L.A. Daily News. "That’s what we tried to change, to make it human scale, and athlete-scaled, and athlete-centered."
L.A. officials worked toward convincing International Olympic Committee voters -- who are scheduled to decide in September 2017 -- that the dorms were a suitable, and desirable, option.
"Everything looks great," said LA 2024 chief executive, Gene Sykes said about UCLA's facilities, according to the Times. "If you took a tour now, even though you might find some messy rooms where the kids may not have put away their laundry, what you would find is this place looks really fresh."
While athletes would stay at UCLA, media members and some Olympic officials would be put up at a planned residential complex at USC. But Olympic villages often prove a costly endeavor for games that often see costs balloon out of control. There have been some concerns that L.A. would go over its, comparatively speaking, modest expected budget of around $6 billion. L.A. 2024 has said it expects to generate a surplus of $161 million, should the games be held in the city. Host cities typically cover the difference if expenses outpace revenues, so the move to UCLA could ease concerns from city officials about L.A. being stuck with a significant bill.