Change of venue

In the simplest terms, what LA28 announced yesterday is that seven events are moving out of the city of LA, and seven events are moving into the city of LA

A rendering showing the LA Coliseum hosting track and field events during the 2028 Olympics with the logo in the corner
To me, the most newsworthy part of this week's LA28 announcement are the first renderings since the bid β€” FINALLY!

Around 10 a.m. yesterday my phone started blowing up. Oklahoma City???

The news that LA28 is sending some Olympic events out of state is sending Angelenos spiraling. Oklahoma City might seem extreme but I assure you that, overall, this is not a DRAMATIC MOVE or a MAJOR SHIFT by Olympics organizers, as many outlets are reporting. LA is the host city, but it's not the only city where Olympic events will be held. As more venues are confirmed, events will continue to shuffle around for the next four years. Plus the locations for so many events are still up in the air entirely! Expect more of these announcements β€” and maybe a few more unexpected places.

In the simplest terms, what LA28 announced yesterday is that seven events are moving out of the city of LA, and seven events are moving into the city of LA.

The reason given by LA28? Money.

As in 1984, the 2028 Summer Olympics have been spun as the frugal β€” although perhaps not completely "no-build" β€” games. Then as now, LA likes to claim we could stage the entire games using existing venues. But this isn't true. The IOC has all sorts of arcane rules around facility specifications and crowd capacity for each sport, and some existing LA venues simply won't meet the standards. Building temporary facilities is expensive, and only pencils out financially for big-ticket, high-viewership events. Finding the perfect off-the-shelf venue, particularly for a more niche sport, is going to save a lot of cash for LA28, which lost a marquee sponsor, Salesforce, earlier this year. LA28 says these venue changes will "create more than $150 million in combined cost savings and revenue increases." That's shaving a very tiny amount off the $7 billion budget, but fine.

Moving out of the City of Los Angeles – requires City approval Olympic Swimming to Inglewood Paralympic Swimming to Long Beach  Olympic Artistic Swimming to Long Beach Olympic Basketball to Inglewood Olympic Canoe Slalom to the City of Oklahoma City Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian to Temecula Olympic and Paralympic Shooting to existing venue outside of Los Angeles    Moving into the City of Los Angeles – does not require City approval Olympic Diving to existing venue in Los Angeles Olympic and Paralympic Archery to the Sepulveda Basin Olympic BMX Freestyle to the Sepulveda Basin Olympic BMX Racing to the Sepulveda Basin Olympic Gymnastics (Artistic, Rhythmic, Trampoline) to Downtown Los Angeles Olympic Skateboarding Park to the Sepulveda Basin Olympic Skateboarding Street to the Sepulveda Basin
Venue changes for the 2028 Olympics announced yesterday. LA28

LA's city leadership was officially alerted to the changes in a letter from LA28 on Monday which actually offers way more detail on the plan, including specific cost breakdowns. Interestingly, per the games agreement, LA's city council will have to vote to approve the events leaving the city β€” but moving events into the city does not require council approval. If you start reading the document and don't fully understand what LA28 is talking about, remember that the IOC is not allowed to refer to official venue names as it may infer associations with brands, so Arena is "the Arena in Downtown Los Angeles that is the home to the Lakers, Kings and Sparks." Although I find it interesting that the IOC can use team names β€” which are also brands?

I, Journalist in Los Angeles, have spent the last 24 hours carefully sifting the headlines from the hype so I can tell you, People in Los Angeles, what you actually need to know about the changes to the venue plan.

A rendering showing a whitewater park in Oklahoma City during the 2028 Summer Olympics with the logo in the corner

Most surprising: Oklahoma City???

We had hints this was coming. Last month at VerdeXchange, LA's chief tourism officer Doane Liu said LA28 was "days away" from announcing an out-of-state venue. At first I thought it might be Salt Lake City to help shine a light on their 2034 bid. LA28 says canoe slalom and softball are going all the way to Oklahoma City because these are the best facilities for these two sports in the country. That argument seems reasonable for the Riversport OKC whitewater park, which is also hosting Olympic trials. (I don't even know how you build a temporary canoe slalom course but I feel like LA would somehow turn it into a disaster.) As home to the NCAA softball world series and the Softball Hall of Fame, Devon Park is also a very good fit for softball, but it seems pretty unbelievable that not a single baseball field in the entirety of Southern California could be retrofitted for softball. Oklahoma City mayor David Holt said this deal has been in the works for six years. Maybe LA28 approached OKC for its whitewater park and, through negotiations, they threw in softball as a two-for-one.

Sending events out of state or even out of the country is not abnormal for the Olympics. Next month, Paris is outsourcing surfing to Tahiti. Fun fact: in 1984, LA's Olympic soccer matches were played at Harvard Stadium in Boston, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, and Stanford Stadium, with the finals at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. (The 2028 soccer finals are also anticipated to be held at the Rose Bowl, but that hasn't been officially announced yet. Like I said, there are so many more of these to come.) One highly publicized event on the 2028 docket still doesn't have a venue: cricket, which will be played at the Olympics for the first time in 128 years. There are reports that IOC officials are sending cricket matches to New York after visiting Nassau County Stadium on Long Island. Or maybe they'll throw this one all the way to India to honor former LA mayor and U.S. Ambassador Eric Garcetti, who made the official cricket announcement on behalf of the IOC.

A rendering showing the Intuit Dome basketball arena filled with crowds during the 2028 Summer Olympics with the logo in the corner

Most obvious: Ballmer's dome

Basketball is moving from Arena to the brand-new Intuit Dome in Inglewood built by Steve Ballmer, the "richest owner in North American professional sports." The $2 billion venue is where the Clippers, owned by Steve Ballmer, will play starting in October. As part of this exchange, gymnastics, which was scheduled to be at the Forum, is now going to Steve Ballmer also owns the Forum.

Most far: Temecula

Sepulveda Dam lost its equestrian events to Temecula's Galway Downs, "the only such facility in Southern California large enough to accommodate all required disciplines in one location." During the 1984 games, a few equestrian events were held at a San Diego country club, but a bulk of the horse-related activity happened at the Santa Anita Racetrack. That facility would have fit nicely into Metro's transportation plan with the A line right across the street. Temecula greatly expands the 2028 footprint β€” it's 60 miles from the nearest potential venue, likely Honda Center in Anaheim β€” and it's in a transit desert. Good luck, planners of the "car-free games!" Maybe people can ride horses there.

A rendering showing a BMX and skateboarding facility in the Sepulveda Basin during the 2028 Summer Olympics with the logo in the corner

Most potentially problematic: Sepulveda Basin

Forget OKC, the biggest changes in this venue plan for us are the five new events coming to the Sepulveda Basin, as LA28 "reaffirms its commitment to place sports in the San Fernando Valley for the first time in history": BMX freestyle, BMX racing, park and street skateboarding, and archery. In the release, these are deemed by LA28 to be "youthful, high-energy" sports, and, as Jules Boykoff and I talked about in depth earlier this month, this is the IOC's literal "how do you do, fellow kids?" attempt at attracting new audiences. This is also why NBC calls in Snoop Dogg to do Olympic commentary.

When LA28 says that this week's newly selected venues "provide legacy opportunities in the city of Los Angeles," that could really only apply to these Sepulveda Basin events since everything else is being shuffled around in existing stadiums and arenas. This is curious timing as local leaders held a big press conference in the Sepulveda Basin on Monday to announce $2.5 million in state grants to "restore ecosystems and implement nature-based solutions along the LA River." These grants are part of $5 billion in infrastructure projects proposed under the Sepulveda Basin Vision Plan. It's going to be interesting to watch how the vision plan collides with the venue plan. I can already see a few potential conflicts. Maybe the legacy is that LA28 is going to hand over funds for rewilding the river after the games are over!

A rendering showing a pool inside SoFi stadium surrounded by crowds at the 2028 Summer Olympics with the logo in the corner

Most iconic: SoFi as pool

SoFi Stadium will be converted into a swimming stadium, and if we can gauge interest by social-media enthusiasm alone, this will be a very popular event. Instead of building a temporary pool in USC's baseball field, organizers will build an aquatic facility on the SoFi field, then build a stadium floor on top of it to host the opening and closing ceremonies. (This is all particularly funny after Stan Kroenke got in a fight with FIFA over making modifications to the field that almost cost SoFi the World Cup.) Here's a timelapse of a similar pool being built for the Olympic time trials in Indianapolis this week.

In other aquatic news, artistic swimming goes to Long Beach, one of a handful of cities that has signed a games agreement with LA28, and where water polo is likely going to be held in a temporary facility to be built on the city's waterfront. Diving goes to the LA Swim Stadium, the Coliseum-adjacent aquatic center built for the 1932 games. The official name is the LA84 Foundation/John C. Argue Swim Stadium but an easy way to identify reporters who copied over the LA28 press release or simply don't care about LA is that they're calling this the "1932 Pool in Exposition Park" because that's how it was captioned in LA28's press kit. Whatever you want to call it, this is one of LA's best public pools, and a great place to go on this hot weekend β€” thanks Olympic legacy! πŸ”₯

🎀 Next week's ad hoc Olympic committee meeting at city council has quite the lineup. On the agenda: long-awaited LA28 financial statements, working group updates, motions for volunteer programs and sidewalk improvements (!!!), and information about the federal National Special Security Event designation I wrote about earlier this week. Among other topics! Monday, June 24, 1 p.m., watch here

πŸ’Έ Over at Report Forward, I interviewed Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez about why she voted no on a budget that slashes desperately needed city services β€” like sidewalk improvements! β€” for the second year in a row. "We’re going to be in a deficit until 2028," she said. "This is a self-inflicted wound. We, as a council, did this to the city of Los Angeles"

πŸš‡ Want to see what a well-executed car-free event looks like in LA β€” at least on a very micro scale? LA Design Weekend, happening now, is urging attendees to "leave your car at home," giving out pre-loaded TAP cards, and producing maps that plot out car-free routes between events

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