Tuesday, September 1, 2015

USOC Announces America's 2024 Olympic Bid City

Team USA just added a new chapter to the evolving book of L.A. stories by officially naming Los Angeles the U.S. Olympic Committee entry into the 2024 Olympic bid process.

Replacing Boston just two weeks after scrapping a Bean Town bid, USOC officials joined a beaming LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and several Olympians at an afternoon press conference emcee'd by Al Michaels in the Annenberg Community Beach House on Santa Monica Beach. 

I caught the latter half of the press conference online, then dialed-in to a media Q&A, informing several perspectives on the news of the day.

An impressive element of the announcement was that many official participants stayed on message proclaiming #LA2024 is "America's bid city" for Olympic hosting honors. Olympic champion Janet Evans rallied fellow Olympians and other press event participants stating the bid enjoys 80 percent thumbs up approval, but it will take more than Angelinos' local support to win.

"If we are going to win these Games we need every American behind this bid," said Evans. "[This is the start of] a national campaign and a national celebration." 

This message of national unity is appropriate and something that was, in retrospect, buried or never part of earlier bid news. 

During the media Q&A call, USOC Chairman Larry Probst expressed gratitude while acknowledging stumbling out of the bid city gates with Boston.

"[We are] incredibly grateful to have a partner in Los Angeles," said Probst. "We did not take the most direct route to get here today ... [a day of] excitement, enthusiasm and hope. I think we are going to make L.A. and the Olympic Movement better (through this bid)."

Other key messages resonated with this blogger. Garcetti described his city as the nation's "most connected city" and a "global city of diversity ... ready to compete globally" to which other officials explained LA's unique ability to help athletes of the world "feel at home and enjoy a home field advantage" no matter their nationality. 

Press materials also strike a positive and future leaning tone stating the bid and the city's connectivity will engage "the next generation of global youth" in new ways. The City Council's unanimous (15-0) vote in support of the LA bid is another feather in the new cap for #LA2024.

As a public relations executive I was dying to ask which agencies or other communications professionals are already on board with the LA bid committee. I also want to know definitively whether San Francisco and Washington, D.C., also tried to reel in USOC attention after the Boston debacle. It would also be interesting and timely to find out how many jobs may become available through the bid committee featuring Casey Wasserman at the helm and a former political strategist who resigned his Mayor's office post to join the bid. 

I am genuinely energized by the LA24 and Team USA bid -- it is such a relief to feel the organizers have their stuff together, a vibe never felt at any stage of the Boston 2024 effort. 

It also was cool to hear an LA city official express gratitude for the bid committee's "courage moving the city in an Olympic direction" (a sentiment never felt in Massachusetts) and astonishment that they "got it done in two weeks" during which they reigned in community support. 

Confidence also reigned on the media call. When veteran Olympic reporter Philip Hersh asked if LA would pursue a 2028 bid if locked out for 2024 (New York 2012 and Chicago 2016 did not repeat bids after one loss each), officials quickly and energetically responded "we are in this to win" and "ready to win again" (after hosting in 1932 and 1984) with no interest in discussing an alternative ending to a victorious 2024 bid game.

With confirmed competition from Budapest, Hamburg, Paris and Rome -- and a possible Toronto bid also TBD -- Los Angeles has some hard work to complete before the IOC vote in Lima, Peru, two summers from now. 

LA's initial budget and fiscally-responsible approach may resonate. 

There is one communications-related Achilles' heel not yet tested through today's media Q&A: Disclosures. Boston's bid team shot off one foot then the other by failing on the public disclosures front. I hope there won't prove to be a "Gotcha!" moment for LA24 in this regard. I'm still dying to know what other lessons learned the Los Angeles team noted and learned from in the last several months, and time may reveal their key takeaways. 

"Convincing IOC members that LA is the place to be ... is now our mission," one official stated. 

Images via #LA2024 and BigSkyline.com



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