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HomeUS CoinsCommemorative Stories: The 1983-84 LA Olympics Coins - Part III

Commemorative Stories: The 1983-84 LA Olympics Coins – Part III

St. Germain was the first to comment, complimenting the panel members and stating that he was “inspired” by their testimony. He then posed a question about the impact the 11-month delay in passing a coin bill had had on its potential revenue generation. Naber fielded the question and reviewed how the delay had caused the guaranteed money from the private marketers to drop from $50 million to $30 million, and how the committees may have already lost out on as much as $80 million. He urged quick passage of a bill to prevent a projected ongoing loss of $3 million per month.

Members of the management team of the LAOOC and USOC made up the next witness panel. Peter Ueberroth, President of the LAOOC, was first to testify. As he had done during the Senate hearing in July 1981, Ueberroth reviewed how the private funding model being used to stage the LA Olympics was vastly different from all previous Games which had relied on the government of the host city/country to finance them.

He stated the committee’s support of St. Germain’s HR.6058 and its belief that it will enable strong domestic and international sales at no cost to the US government. International sales were critical, he noted, as they help raise revenue for the other countries involved in the Olympics. He also addressed the objections of coin dealers, and the coin community in general, by asking them to reconsider their position considering how they are less than 10 percent of the potential market for the coins. (Such a projection for the contribution of collectors to the overall sales of the coins would prove to be a significant underestimation.)

In closing, Ueberroth spoke directly to Annunzio and St. Germain, stating “Work together, gentleman. Let’s make it happen. Let’s be fair to the athletes that ask for nothing and to the organizing committee that asks for nothing.”[11]

Harry Usher

Harry Usher, Executive Vice President of the LAOOC, was then called. He was critical of the delays experienced with getting a coin bill approved, noting that “funding delayed is funding denied.”[12] He reiterated the LAOOC’s support for the St. Germain bill and noted that the private marketers – the Occidental Petroleum-Lazard Freres “Coin Group” – would reengage in the program if St. Germain’s 17-coin bill is approved. He also noted that the committee did not support Annunzio’s bill calling for a single silver dollar as it did not believe such a program could be successful.

Robert Kane, Past President of the USOC, and Don Miller, Executive Director of the USOC, were also called. Kane provided a lengthy statement on the history, programs, and activities of the USOC and concluded by urging passage of HR.6058. Miller followed and discussed the deficit in which the USOC finds itself and how it has had to take loans to maintain its operations that support US Olympic athletes. He also offered support for St. Germain’s bill, stating “17 coins is the smallest number which will be sufficiently attractive to the public to generate the volume of sales necessary to result in substantial profits to the Olympic Committee.”[13]

The LAOOC and USOC witnesses presented their case regarding what parameters would be necessary for a successful coin program based on the proposal they had received from the Coin Group. Annunzio and members of the numismatic community would subsequently question the expertise of the marketers in this and future sessions, arguing that their past management and over-estimations of sales for the 1976 Montreal and the 1980 Moscow Olympics coin programs called into question any projections they have made for the LA Olympics program.

Annunzio closed the session by assuring those in attendance that despite the ongoing differences of opinion regarding approach, “I do not know what kind of a coin program we are going to have, but I am positive we are going to have a coin program.”[14] His pronouncement was greeted by applause.

Article Continues on the Following Page(s) ……….

David Provost
David Provost
David Provost is a numismatic writer and commemorative coin specialist. Among other roles, Provost has served as President of the North Carolina Numismatic Association (NCNA) and Editor of the club's quarterly NCNA Journal.

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