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The Olympics Return to Los Angeles

The Olympics Return to Los Angeles

Every four years, people around the world gather to cheer on their country’s top athletes as they compete in the Summer Olympics. In the years leading up to an Olympic Summer Games, cities across the globe are also in intense competition as they craft proposals that they hope will convince Olympic organizers to let them host the Games. These plans are submitted to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the governing body that decides which city will host the upcoming edition of the Olympics.

In July 2017, the IOC cast a unanimous vote and selected Paris and Los Angeles to be the host cities for the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympics. Currently, neither city has been assigned to a year by the IOC, leaving the decision of which city will host which Games to be made by the administrators of LA and Paris. An official decision is expected to be made by September 2017. [i]

Upgrades for Existing Infrastructure

The process of bringing the Olympics back to Los Angeles – which last hosted the summer Games in 1984 - began in the summer of 2015, when the LA City Council unanimously voted to support the city’s bid to host the 2024 Games. The overwhelming Council support for LA’s bid was fueled partly by the city’s determination to reduce the financial risks associated with hosting the Games by using existing infrastructure and facilities to host sporting events and accommodate athletes.

For example, during the Games the residence facilities at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Southern California (USC) will be used to host the Olympic Village and the Media Village, respectively.  By repurposing existing facilities, Los Angeles is positioning itself to avoid the excessive spending that has plagued previous Olympic host cities.

Although the City of LA is dedicated to using existing facilities, there are cases where temporary structures will need to be constructed to meet the diverse needs of the games. In Santa Monica, new venues for Beach Volleyball events will be built, and temporary pools will be installed at USC’s Dredeaux Field for swimming and diving events. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been earmarked to cover the costs of these and other temporary structures, including facilities to be built at the Long Beach Waterfront, the Sepulevda Basin and the StubHub Center.

(Source: Los Angeles’ Bid for the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics. Legislative Analyst’s Office. 2016)

Modernizing Olympic History

The most notable and historic venue to receive attention for the upcoming games is the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. This will be the third time since its construction in 1923 that the Coliseum will host the Olympic Games, after the Games of 1932 and 1984. Currently home to the USC Trojans football team and the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, the planned upgrades will allow the Coliseum to function as an Olympics venue once again.

Today, audiences at sporting events expect a certain level of technology at major stadiums and venues (for example, massive screens) that is not currently present at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. To ensure the venue lives up to audience expectations, two large video screens will be installed at the east end of the field, along with new audio and video equipment throughout the stadium. Wi-Fi access will be improved with new equipment that will be able to handle heavy use by Olympic officials, media and guests. New lighting systems will be installed to improve visibility in both the stadium and on the field, and all electrical systems will receive attention to bring them up to current standards. [ii]

Comfort and accessibility issues will also be addressed at the 94-year-old stadium. The main entry will be overhauled to handle the large number of visitors to the games, while on the inside, aisles will be widened, new handrails will be installed and every seat in the venue will be replaced. On the stadium’s south side, a concourse leading to new club seating and private suites will be constructed. Existing concession stands will also be upgraded in order to better accommodate the large number of guests. [ii]

Improving LAX

Upgrades to venues are not the only tasks that must be completed before the Olympics arrive in Los Angeles - the city will also need to prepare for a huge influx of visitors during the games. Luckily, the city already has a major infrastructure project in the works at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to handle the increase in travelers.

Two new Intermodal Transportation Facilities (ITFs) will be constructed at LAX to expand vehicle parking for visitors. Along with more accessible locations for passenger pick-up/drop-off, the new ITFs will also provide easier access for hotel shuttles. Each ITF will also have multiple waiting areas, foodservice vendors and flight check-in kiosks.

Currently there are more than 20 car rental locations that service LAX; as part of the planned improvements these locations will be moved to the new Consolidated Rent-A-Car Center (CONRAC) which will provide direct access to the 405 freeway. By moving all the car rental locations to one centralized structure there will no longer be a need for the rental car shuttles that currently transport guests to and from the airport. The removal of the shuttles will be greatly improve traffic flow throughout the airport and create easier vehicle access for visitors.

To further improve guest access throughout LAX, the new Automated People Mover (APM) will be installed. Designed to handle up to nine trains, each with four, fifty-passenger cars, this new system will provide fast reliable transportation to airport guests. Wait times are estimated at 2-3 minutes between trains and the system will operate 24 hours a day at no cost to users. Once completed, the APM will make it easier for guests to access the upgraded Central Terminal, the two new Intermodal Transportation Facilities and the CONRAC. The last stop on the APM will be the new 96th Street Metro Station, which guests can use to access multiple location downtowns including hotels, shopping centers and Olympic venues.

(Source: The Solution. Connecting LAX. City of Los Angeles 2017)

Prepared For Gold

Readying a city for a global event like the Olympic Games is a daunting task and, as past games have shown, preparations can often come down to the wire. In 2016 more than 11,000 athletes participated in the Rio Olympics [iii] and an estimated 500,000 people traveled to Brazil to attend the games.[iv]Preparing a city for these numbers of people means that every detail must be planned and ready to go far in advance of opening day. Housing and training facilities must be ready when the athletes arrive; concessions contracts need to secured; security staff need to hired and media centers need to be online to cover the event. By focusing on upgrading and improving existing facilities, Los Angeles is setting itself apart from prior host cities and positioning itself to take the gold in 2024 – or 2028.

Kevin McClintock |

[i] IOC Makes Historic Decision. News. 2017. Web July 2017

[ii] LA’s Coliseum to be Transformed for 2024 Olympics. Coliseum. 2017 Web July 2017

[iii] Athletes Participating. 2016 Summer Olympics. 2017 Web July 2017

[iv] The Rio Olympics by the Numbers. Sports. 2016 Web July 2017


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