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Los Angeles, promoting itself as a bargain, seeks 2024 Olympics

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Los Angeles city leaders committed on Wednesday to hosting the 2024 Olympics if the city wins an international competition to do so, hoping a budget-conscious plan that does not require building new venues will bring the Games back for the third time.

Los Angeles, which hosted the Olympics in 1932 and 1984, is competing against Paris and Budapest for the 2024 Summer Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is expected to name the host city in September at a meeting in Peru.

With a 13-0 vote on Wednesday, the City Council committed to signing the final contract with Olympic organizers if Los Angeles is chosen.

The city represents a possibly thrifty choice, in large part because officials plan to use existing venues and locations, including Memorial Coliseum which will be 101 years old in 2024.

"The use of existing infrastructure is incredibly compelling to the IOC," said Rick Horrow, a sports business expert at Harvard Law School. Horrow called Los Angeles the leading contender because it has hosted two Olympics without losing money.

Budapest officials have promoted the small distance between its venues as an advantage, while Paris has a history of hosting sporting events including the World Cup of soccer in 1998.

Los Angeles would build no permanent venue for the Games. At least part of the opening and closing ceremonies would be at a football stadium being built for two National Football League teams in the suburb of Inglewood, according to organizers.

Los Angeles officials have said they do not expect the city to expend public funds without reimbursement from organizers of the 2024 Olympics. Nevertheless, with the council vote, the city promised to cover any financial shortfall incurred by the organizers.

"In today's political landscape, I don't need to tell you that finding common ground isn't always easy, but there is common ground here today," Mayor Eric Garcetti told a news conference.

The mayor was flanked by dozens of former U.S. Olympians, including gold medalists Apolo Ohno and Michael Johnson.

The cost to host the games, relying on private financing, is expected to be about $5.3 billion, said Casey Wasserman, chairman of the LA 2024 organizing group.

To help cover city expenses such as law enforcement, the IOC would provide some $1.7 billion, including proceeds from television broadcasts and ticket sales, according to a city document.

Walt Disney Co CEO Bob Iger is serving as a vice chair on the LA 2024 organizing committee.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Daniel Trotta)