Los Angeles won the rights to host the 2028 Olympic games, and that’s spurred a host of projects designed to ensure the games go off without a hitch. The investment spans a range of new development, infrastructure improvements as well as the polishing of existing facilities.
The city is no stranger to preparing for and hosting a global event. After all, it hosted the 1984 Olympics, which was the first to ever turn a profit. Los Angeles will be the third city in the world to host the games three times, along with Paris and London. Reaching that milestone will require a region-wide focus that stretches beyond the city limits, not to mention billions invested in projects leading up to the – actual estimates could cost roughly $6.9 billion to stage.
Los Angeles’ numerous world-renowned stadiums, arenas, convention centers, and iconic venues will be called on to host LA 2028. That includes a newly renovated Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, along with Staples Center, UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, USC’s Galen Center, The Forum, the StubHub Center, and the Rose Bowl. Sites across the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles Harbor, and Southern California’s legendary beaches will also host several sports.
The preparation for the Games of the XXXIV Olympiad will possibly encompass building new projects and facilities, although Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has billed the games as a no-frills affair that will make use of existing or already planned facilities.
While few if any new purpose-built structures or venues will be created for the event, the region already has a number of new sports facilities being built that will be called into action. One such showpiece venue is the Los Angeles Rams football stadium in Inglewood that’s set to open in 2020. The state-of-the-art 70,240-seat SoFi Stadium will host the L.A. 2028 opening ceremonies. Not only is it one of the most expensive sports-and-entertainment complexes ever built, with an estimated price tag of roughly $5 billion, it will anchor a 298-acre mixed-use complex of office buildings, shops, restaurants, residential units, hotels, movie theater and parks. The Banc of California stadium, also a recently-built sports facility near Exposition Park and the L.A. Coliseum, will host soccer and other athletic events.
The distributed event model of the games will use existing and supplement university student housing and training facilities to create a network of mini–Olympic Villages across a region, eliminating the need to build new ones. For instance, at UCLA, where the Olympic Village will be located, the university is planning to add 5,400 new student housing units. The USC campus will host the Olympic media village, using existing dorms, including the recently-completed, $700-million USC Village, a 1.25-million-square-foot campus expansion that can accommodate 2,500 residents.
In and around the L.A. Live complex in Downtown there’s been a push to add hotel rooms. There are as many as 20 new high-rise complexes in the works that will add 8,000 new hotel rooms near the Staples Center and Los Angeles Convention Center, where basketball, boxing, fencing, taekwondo, and other sporting events will be held. There’s also been a noticeable uptick in hotel development activity in cities such as West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood leading up to the games.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) inked a long-term sponsorship deal with Airbnb valued at $500 million across five Olympic Games. Airbnb has become a key component of millions of travelers’ ability to explore new cities, and is expected to make attending Olympic Games easier. An intriguing element of the deal is a planned launch of Airbnb Olympian Experiences and a $28-million IOC and IPC fund for athlete accommodations. The committee said it will work with Airbnb to create “new opportunities” for elite athletes to “develop their own direct revenue streams.”
Pillar SoCal Infrastructure Projects
Getting travelers in and out of Los Angeles first starts at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Los Angeles World Airports is moving forward on an array of planned improvements, and the addition of at least 21 gates that are envisioned to be open in time for the Olympics. The airport is already underway on $14 billion in upgrades to roads and terminals.
Perhaps the centerpiece of a plan to modernize access to the airport leading up to the Games is an Automated People Mover (APM). The $4.9-billion, 2.25-mile train for people will connect LAX’s central terminal with a station for the Crenshaw/LAX and Metro Green light rail lines, as well as a new consolidated car rental facility.
Among the multi-phased improvements at LAX is a new 12-gate Terminal Nine planned east of Sepulveda Boulevard on land currently housing airline hangars, maintenance facilities and a regional carrier concourse. In addition, Terminal One, which houses Southwest Airlines, would be expanded with a four-level, nine-gate Concourse Zero facility built over a parking lot east of the existing terminal. A pedestrian bridge over Sepulveda is also proposed between Terminals Eight and Nine.
A $1.6-billion midfield concourse is being built west of the Tom Bradley International Terminal, which can accommodate super-jumbo airplanes favored for long-haul international travel. Renovations are also underway on terminals used by Delta, American and Southwest Airlines.
Los Angeles County’s mass transportation network will receive a big boost, too. The L.A. County Metro Board of Directors set an ambitious goal of completing 28 projects to transform the transportation system before the 2028 Olympics. The bulk of the 28 projects are being funded by voter-approved ballot measures Measure R and Measure M, though other revenue sources likely will be tapped to accelerate construction and close funding gaps, including state and federal grants, as well as public private partnerships.
Key transportation mega-infrastructure “pillar” projects are planned to add new light rail lines, extend other lines to make getting around Los Angeles during the Olympics easier.
Other transportation improvements include:
LA Metro wants to develop a “microtransit” program for the county, which is envisioned as a publicly operated ride-hailing app. The system is expected to focus on first- and last-mile connectivity improvements near train stations.
An overburdened junction at Washington Boulevard and Flower Street has become a big bottleneck in the Metro system. This intersection, which often sees more than 40 Expo and Blue Line trains pass through per hour, will be improved by separating trains from car lanes to allow both to flow in and out of Downtown Los Angeles easier.
The LA River bike path will be completed to create a seamless 32-mile corridor from the West San Fernando Valley to Long Beach. That will entail completing several missing sections along the whole length of the river as it courses through Los Angeles.
The organizers of LA 2028 aren’t taking chances and have started an early effort to
prepare for the event. They view these early investments as a critical undertaking to
prepare for the Olympic Games – ensuring a smoothly run event, and one that is highly
beneficial to the community beyond when the competition ends.
In future decades, the improvements could result in experiences that only come along once-in-a-generation for those who attend, as well as continued economic growth for the entire region.