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New Marathon Route Shows off Downtown, but at a Cost to the City

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, May 05, 2008, at 11:59AM
Los Angeles Thumbs Up Ed Fuentes

Councilman Tom LaBonge gives his approval to the new marathon route as runners turn onto the 6th street bridge in Boyle Heights.

The 2007 Los Angeles Marathon debuted a new point-to-point route designed to show off the city, but the popular changes look to have a negative impact on the city's wallet at a time when it can least afford it.

City salary costs for the 2007 race were up nearly $800,000, and yet a recent memo from the city's Chief Legislative Analyst suggests revised invoices that lower the city's combined reimbursement from the 2007 and 2008 races roughly in half, leaving the city paying a nearly $800,000 bill for the two marathons.

The contract between the city and Devine Racing provides that the race operator reimburse the city for direct incremental costs, that is, the costs the city incurs minus its normal non-marathon Sunday costs. That agreement was new for 2006, previously the marathon operator had paid a flat $100,000 fee for the city's services.

In 2007, though, the marathon rolled out a new point-to-point race that was designed to show off more of the city and reduce some elevation issues that had made the race less attractive. Previous races had been a loop, with both start and finish lines in Downtown. The new route brought increased costs, and the city's salary expenses went up $700,000 from 2006 to 2007.

A praised part of the new route is the final turn into Downtown, taking runners through Boyle Heights and across the historic 6th Street Viaduct.

While fans and runners seem to like the new route, Devine wasn't too pleased with the bigger invoice the firm received from the city. The firm said that the route changes were the city's idea, and therefore the city should shoulder the increased costs. In its memo, the Chief Legislative Analyst's office agreed, saying that the city should take salary costs from the route change along with additional expenses off the firm's invoice. The net result would be city costs of $800,000 per marathon, and reimbursement of only half that.

The matter goes to the city's Budget and Finance committee next, and any contract change would need the council's approval.

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