At present, largely by holding construction to a minimum and using existing facilities—the Coliseum for athletics (track and field), the Forum for basketball, the Rose Bowl for soccer, Santa Anita racetrack for equestrian events, the UCLA and USC campuses for athlete housing, etc.—the total cost of the L.A. Games in 1984-inflated dollars is expected to round out at a nice unassuming cut-rate $500 million. "And we're doing our best to end with a 10 percent surplus," says Ueberroth.
Translation: The Five-Ring Gang is going to pull off a job that could rack up a $50 million profit. Can it be? Yes, it can, although Ueberroth would never say profit, the LAOOC being nominally a private nonprofit corporation. And cautious man that he is, he's still holding to an earlier projection of a $21 million profit—er, surplus—all of it, whatever the name or final amount, to go to the furtherance of amateur sports in Southern California (40%), throughout the U.S. (40%) and to the national governing bodies of amateur sports (20%). What Ueberroth does say unequivocally is, "Ours will be the most financially successful Games ever."
That's not bravado, those are the numbers talking. So believe Ueberroth when he says that to date, with more than $140 million in advance payments from sponsors piling up interest in the bank, "We've yet to spend a penny." And will not until the first quarter of 1984 when the bulk of the Games' bills fall due. "We haven't even had to touch the principal," Ueberroth explains. "We're operating just on our income from interest. And with these current interest rates, our income is exceeding our expenses by a half-million dollars every three months."
What with the Five-Ring Gang slashing costs at every turn, the 50 file drawers jammed with detailed financial research, the strict no-credit, cash-as-you-go, non-refundable-deposit policies, the inflation clauses locked into each contract, the cost projections with double and triple reserves for unknown factors, the bonded guarantees from builders to avoid delays and overruns, and not one but two accounting firms keeping steely-eyed watch over all, well, as tight ships go, the LAOOC is fairly twanging. "We just don't plan to make any financial mistakes," says Ueberroth.
Terrific, but what about soul? That's a question that concerns, among others, Maureen A. Kindel, president of the Los Angeles Public Works Commission and, as head of an LAOOC committee that is planning the Games' cultural events, a "friendly critic." She says, "I worry about the soul of the Olympics, worry that the citizens of Los Angeles will really feel a great commitment to the Olympic Games and that they will enjoy the magic of them. I worry that all we hear about is the positive balance on our ledger sheet. Are we failing to make some humanistic decisions now because of the desire for a large profit just for profit's sake?"
You want soul? Ueberroth's got soul. And to prove it he provides a glossy four-by-six-inch printup of two of his favorite quotations embossed with the LAOOC's shooting-star logo, a kind of inspirational calling card he had done up for folks who might want to know where he's coming from. One quote is from a speech by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Games, made shortly after the 1908 London Olympics, a relatively showy affair marred by some nationalistic infighting:
"The next Olympic Games must not have the same character. They must be kept more purely athletic, they must be more dignified, more discreet and more in accordance with the classic artistic requirements. The Games must be more intimate and, above all, the Games must be less expensive."
In response, Ueberroth utters a fairly glossy pronouncement of his own: "We will follow the Baron's suggestions, and the Olympic movement and the world will be better for it.
"Our goal is to make the Olympics a sporting event again, to do something right for the athletes. We're not trying to be bigger, better, grander. We're clearly trying to put on a Games that goes back to the early, easy principles of the Olympics, to celebrate sport."
But Ueberroth's soul reasons are not the only reasons for "doing the Games right." Consider the other quotation on his calling card: