LA28 committee chooses marketing chief Carter as new CEO

By Eddie Pells

The organizing committee for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics elevated its top marketing officer, Kathy Carter, to CEO on Tuesday as it ramps up preparations for the Games that are now less than seven years away.

Carter started work for the committee in 2018 as its chief revenue officer and is responsible for securing key deals with founding sponsors including Delta Airlines and Comcast.

Carter will continue to cut deals in an Olympic landscape that has been altered both by its own attempts to streamline the Games, along with the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on sports and the Olympic schedule itself.

She said one of her key challenges will be “bringing together talent from an experience stand point, but also from a diversity stand point, that allows us to prepare for the known and, more importantly, the unknown.”

With Carter, the committee now has about 10 top executives on board. Casey Wasserman, who drove the bid to bring the games back to LA, is the chair of LA28.

Games organizers have put out a $6.9 billion budget and promised to pay for all expenses through sponsorships, ticket sales, merchandising and other revenue.

A recent study has shown that since 1960, Olympic cities have surpassed their budgets by an average of 172%. Los Angeles thinks it is in a unique position because it doesn’t plan to build massive new venues, and will use UCLA’s campus as the athletes’ village.

Carter is now in charge of the day-to-day operation in a city that once redefined the Olympic movement. In many ways, the 1984 Games took a struggling enterprise and turned it into the multi-billion-dollar behemoth it has become. Much of the growth came on the idea that there was value for major corporations to buy a connection with the Olympic rings.

Many of the deals Carter helped get done for LA will start going into play this year. Meantime, she says LA will try to be realistic about what it can and cannot provide for the IOC, which awarded the 2028 Games to the city four years ago.

“A lot of this is looking at how we have an opportunity to change the narrative and think differently about the Games themselves,” Carter said. “We need to differentiate between what’s a `must,’ and what’s an opportunity” to do things differently.

Before coming to the LA committee, Carter was a founder of Major League Soccer and was president of Soccer United Marketing. She also served as manager of partnership marketing for the 1994 World Cup organizing committee.