Beneath the niceties, however, competition was fierce. Chicago’s glossy presentation folder contained numerous references to its ability to deliver “compact” games – a thinly veiled slap at Los Angeles’ sprawling urban area. If Los Angeles hosts the games, events are expected to also be held in Pasadena, Monterey Park, Anaheim, San Diego, San Francisco and even Las Vegas. Chicago has proposed $1.6 billion in construction if it wins, including building an Olympic stadium, aquatics center and athlete’s village on Lake Michigan. Los Angeles, meanwhile, focused on the wallet. The city is touting its existing facilities and a commitment by Staples Center and the Home Depot owners to spend $150 million for new training facilities, office space and a 150-room hotel and conference center. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also signed legislation authorizing $250 million to cover any cost overruns of the games. And then there’s the mystery contribution that Villaraigosa mentioned Friday. “It’s something we’ve been working on,” Villaraigosa said. “It very clearly is a way to demonstrate the lengths that we will go to to ensure that these will be successful games. “There won’t be any cost associated with it that is not guaranteed.” Los Angeles has hosted the Games in 1932 and 1984. If Chicago is chosen, it will be biggest event in the city since it hosted the World’s Fair in 1933. Olympic selection expert Robert Livingstone said Chicago deserves the chance to host. Having hosted as recently as 22 years ago, he said, will be a significant hurdle for Los Angeles among members of the International Olympic Committee. The IOC will make its decision by 2009. “I don’t think the Olympics is a real `wow’ factor for L.A., and the IOC looks for that,” Livingstone said. He also noted that while IOC officials say they want more “frugal” games, they ultimately go for cities that promise to spend big for new stadiums. That’s another mark in Chicago’s column. “I would hope that the USOC – if they are serious about America winning – that they pick Chicago,” Livingstone said. Villaraigosa and members of the Southern California team, however, insist that having hosted before is a benefit. The third time, they said, will be the charm. “We certainly feel anybody would want to come to L.A. for a third time, a fourth time. I live there. I love it,” said Barry Sanders, chairman of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games. “It’s a great advantage,” he said. “No one would say the fact that you’ve contributed twice to the Olympic movement is a drawback.” As the two city teams wrapped up news conferences Friday and finished their practice sessions, members of both admitted to nervous stomachs. Wearing a “2016 Los Angeles” lapel pin, Villaraigosa called the Angelenos’ mood one of quiet confidence. “We have what it takes to sponsor these games,” he said. [email protected] (202) 662-8731 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Today’s winner will be the U.S. nominee for the premier global sporting event, vying against international locales including Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, Prague and Madrid. So will the committee pick deep-dish pizza or veggie wraps? Skyscrapers or sandy beaches? Will the USOC be taken in by the promise of a gleaming new stadium on Lake Michigan or the comfort of already-existing facilities in Los Angeles? “We’ve got two great cities that could host an excellent Olympic Games,” Jim Scherr, the USOC’s chief executive officer, said less than 24 hours before the board’s decision. Villaraigosa and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley flew on Friday to Washington, D.C., to prepare for their cities’ final Olympic pitches. Both called one another “great friends” and insisted Los Angeles and Chicago are not really competing. The goal, each maintained, is to show off each city’s benefits and prove its ability to win 60 of the International Olympic Committee’s 115 votes. Not, they said, to flaunt the other city’s drawbacks. The U.S. Olympic Committee is set to decide today whether Los Angeles or Chicago will carry the nation’s torch for the 2016 Summer Games, even as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hinted the city still has another perk it will throw into the mix. “We are going to be able to demonstrate that we are able to indemnify the Olympics more than any other city can,” Villaraigosa said Friday as the Southern California delegation prepared its final presentation for the 11-member committee. Villaraigosa declined to offer specifics but said Los Angeles will tell the panel about an additional private funding guarantee if Los Angeles is chosen to host the games.