From the moment they got a look at the bid book, it was clear
to International Olympic Committee members that the 1984 Summer
Games in Los Angeles would be different. The first sentence in
L.A.'s paperund, photocopied document read: "Arrangements are to
be spartan." And they were.
After the debacle in Montreal, no other city wanted the Games.
Angelenos didn't particularly want them either _ a City Charter
amendment vowed not to give the Olympics one red cent.
International Olympic Committee rules, up to this time,
decreed that the host city was financially responsible for the
Games. L.A. said, "No way." And that left it up to the private
Enter Peter Ueberroth, a selfde boy wonder who turned his
startomratch Van Nuys travel agency, First Travel Corp., into the
second largest in North America. A millionaire several times
over, he assumed the presidency of the Los Angeles organizing
committee in 1979, when it had no money in the bank, no bank
account and no office. He took $100 out of his wallet and opened
His first order of business was selling TV rights. The
original bid committee budgeted $105 million, but Ueberroth had
some friends in the ad industry run some numbers to find out what
they were really worth. Then he set a $200 million minimum, to
the astonishment of his advisers. Neither CBS nor NBC would
stretch that far, but ABC jumped up to the challenge, offered
$225 million and agreed to throw up a $75 million broadcast
Next order of business: He wasn't building anything. But
sponsors could. The Southland Corp. built the $4 million 7-Eleven
Velodrome; McDonald's picked up the $4 million tab for the
natatorium; and Atlantic Richfield kicked in $9 million to
refurbish the old Coliseum and build some training tracks. The
committee's construction crews worked wonders with hundreds of
gallons of paint, baling wire and temporary bleachers.
Now, typically, international sports federations would prefer
to send their athletes to play in monuments. And they do what
they can to encourage host cities to build new, glorious,
state-ofet stadiums, tracks and swimming pools.
But when the international rowing federation vetoed Lake
Casitas as a venue, Ueberroth sent a telex: If you don't like
Lake Casitas, we won't have rowing. It's that simple.
And when the field hockey federation insisted the committee
install $2 million worth of artificial turf made by its "official
sponsor," Monsanto, instead of a free field donated by an L.A.
supplier, Ueberroth said he was sure field hockey would have a
nice competition in 1988. …