The centerpiece of the proposed 2024 Olympic Games in Los Angeles would be a $1 billion residential village, where thousands of athletes would eat, sleep and stroll on tree-lined walks and clipped lawns.
But with a deadline to submit a U.S. candidate for the 2024 Games just 18 days away, the plan remains a mystery in many ways.
The sprawling Olympic Village, which would be built near downtown with mostly private funds, is tethered to a series of financial assumptions and question marks.
City analysts warned Thursday that costs to acquire the land and build the structures may significantly exceed the projected cost.
However, doubts about runaway spending were put on hold Friday when a City Council committee advanced a proposal to authorize Mayor Eric Garcetti to execute agreements related to the city's Olympic bid.
The move, which sets up a vote by the full council next week, came after Chief Deputy City Attorney James P. Clark assured members its passage would not expose taxpayers to unchecked costs or debt.
The city's final 2024 plan is not expected to be submitted until late 2016, if a preliminary bid is entered next month.
The U.S. Olympic Committee cut ties in July with Boston, which was initially selected as the U.S. contender. With Los Angeles the likely stand-in, the USOC faces a Sept. 15 deadline to enter a U.S. bid.
Details on the proposed Olympic Village raise numerous questions because:
— The proposed 125-acre site is a rail yard owned by Union Pacific Railroad. The railroad said in an October letter to the mayor that it has no plans to close or relocate the facility and is planning a major modernization of the site but would be open to the possibility of a sale or exchange agreement involving a "suitable replacement facility with all the necessary permits and approvals." The estimated cost of the land is unknown.
— The concept calls for transforming the site into residential housing after the Games. But those plans have not yet been determined, the bid plan states.
— A private developer would invest most of the $925 million to build the village, But who would build the site, how the company would be selected, and what type of financing would be used is unclear.
The village proposal "is very hard to pin down," said Chicago-based sports finance consultant Marc Ganis. "There's not enough information to base a judgment on."
Ganis wondered if the developer would be given incentives to build the village and what that might cost local government.
"When they deal with real estate developers, it's rarely straightforward," said Ganis, who considers other parts of the 2024 budget to be sound.
Garcetti and organizers behind the Los Angeles bid project that the Olympics will be a money-maker.
"I think it's much, much more probable that we'll have a lot of revenue sources that come from this than worrying about the loss," Garcetti said Thursday in a meeting with the editorial board of the Los Angeles Daily News.