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Volume 21 No. 2
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LA 2028 expected to cut staff, maintain consistency in long run-up to first U.S. Games in decades

Los Angeles will have an unprecedented 11 years to plan the Olympics, but preliminary work on public relations and sponsorship sales will get started within weeks.

Bid Chair Casey Wasserman pledged to remain in his role with the group through the end of the 2028 Games, though he noted his title can be flexible depending on the work. CEO Gene Sykes, who remains a Goldman Sachs partner, was more circumspect about his plans, but suggested he could continue to hold both roles.

Wasserman said he expects continuity at most key leadership positions, including Sykes, Chief Bid Officer Danny Koblin, Chief Operating Officer John Harper and lead spokesman Jeff Millman. Koblin and Harper both joined the bid from Wasserman’s firm in 2015.

LA 2028 Chair Casey Wasserman (center) and other bid execs celebrate getting the Games.
“All of our senior people we expect to continue forward,” Wasserman said, allowing for individual conversations that haven’t yet happened. “My operating philosophy in my business is that consistency in everything you do is one of the greatest determinants of success, and a lot of that is about consistency of leadership, so my intention would be to have a very stable senior leadership team.”

The first step for LA 2028 is to formally change the bid committee to a local Games organizing committee, a new corporate entity.

With no imminent deadlines, things will relax a bit. The committee’s workforce will shrink by about half, from a staff of roughly 35 today to between 15 and 20.

The workload also changes. The bid committee prioritized international relations with the International Olympic Committee, but now its attention will turn to local affairs. The single biggest challenge created by the unprecedented delay is keeping the ’28 Games in the minds of Angelenos, Wasserman said.

“The first priority is how do we keep consistently engaged with the community, and I mean that in the broadest sense of the word,” Wasserman said.

That work started right away with IOC President Thomas Bach’s appearance at the Rams-Redskins game on Sunday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and at the Emmy Awards later that night at Microsoft Theater in downtown L.A. The IOC’s pledge of giving L.A. $180 million of its promised contribution to the Games’ budget up front will help finance the committee’s activities.

Sponsorship sales begin in January 2019. Then, a joint venture of LA 2028 and the U.S. Olympic Committee will begin building a portfolio of Games sponsors that is budgeted to generate at least $1.9 billion in current figures.

“We’ll hit the ground running in 2019, but that means 2018 is all about putting an organization in place to start to execute on that,” Wasserman said.

From 2021 through 2028, all Olympic intellectual property in the U.S. will be controlled by the joint venture, run primarily by the L.A. organizing committee. Details of that joint venture are still to be determined, but under the terms of a contract written for the now-discarded 2024 plans, current USOC sponsors will have a right to make a first offer but not a right to match.

That effectively creates a blank slate after current USOC contracts expire in 2020.