Will The Games Burn Atlanta?

ATLANTA ISN'T GOING FOR the gold in the Olympics. An outside analysis predicts profits for 1996 at a slim $13 million. That's not much of a cushion if unexpected costs crop up. Worst case: It jeopardizes a vow not to charge local taxpayers a penny.

Los Angeles scored a tidy $223 million gain in the 1984 Olympics largely because, unlike Atlanta, it didn't build a lot of sports facilities and housing for the event. The Atlanta Games are spending $500 million on construction.

According to Price Waterhouse, which did the analysis for the watchdog Metropolitan Atlanta Olympic Games Authority, revenue from tickets and merchandise may come in below what's budgeted. Example: slow sales of $35 bricks bearing your name that you can either carry home or donate to pave plazas and walkways in a park to be built downtown. Only $8 million has been raised so far, with $15 million needed to meet the target. There's a Dec. 31 cut-off date for bricks to go in the park so construction can start.

The Atlanta Olympic committee says its $1.7 billion budget is sound--and projects a comfy $30 million profit. Nonetheless, it's under orders to present a more detailed budget.

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