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L.A. 2028 Summer Olympics add SoFi Stadium, Intuit Dome to revamped venue plan

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The 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles are getting an extreme makeover, with organizers proposing changes that would shift basketball into the brand-new Intuit Dome, put a temporary swimming pool in the middle of SoFi Stadium and move softball games 1,300 miles east to Oklahoma City.

Revisions to the original master plan would incorporate Southern California’s newest sports venues, make thousands of additional tickets available to fans and, according to the private LA28 committee, generate an estimated $156 million in savings and revenue.

“Some people like to have the Games nice and compact,” said Victor Matheson, a sports economist at the College of the Holy Cross, Mass., who studies the business of the Olympics. “But from an economic standpoint, spreading things out seems to make sense.”

An artist's rendering depicts a crowded Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum lighted at night
An artist’s rendering of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during the 2028 Summer Olympic Games.
(LA28)
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Friday’s announcement marks the first of several expected updates to a concept devised years ago, before the construction of SoFi and Intuit in Inglewood, when organizers first bid for the Games.

“The venue landscape in L.A. since 2016 has changed a lot,” LA28 chairman Casey Wasserman said. “The worst thing we could do is be static and not adjust.”

International Olympic Committee leaders have conditionally approved the proposal, pending a vote by the Los Angeles City Council. Under terms of a Games agreement with organizers, L.A. has a right to consider modifications occurring within its boundaries.

Wasserman expressed confidence about moving forward on what he called “an opportunity that is too unique not to take advantage of.”

This kind of reshuffling is nothing new for Olympic host cities, especially in the four-year countdown to the opening ceremony. During the “delivery” phase, the optimism of brainstorming and planning often gives way to the reality of meeting deadlines and balancing budgets.

One element of L.A.’s plan, which includes the 2028 Paralympics, has been untouchable from the start. The Coliseum, a historical centerpiece for the 1932 and 1984 Summer Games, will be modified with a raised floor to host track and field. Almost everything else has been subject to review.

The opening of the Intuit Dome later this year affords the opportunity to shift basketball from Crypto.com Arena to the sport’s newest venue. It also allows for moving another marquee sport, gymnastics, from the older Forum to Crypto.com. The downtown home of the Lakers and Kings has more seats and, because it was designed to accommodate a hockey rink, more floor space for gymnastics’ multiple events, such as the vault and the uneven bars.

LA28 estimates the Intuit and Crypto.com changes will result in a net budgetary gain of $38 million. Moving the sport of swimming could be even more economically beneficial.

Original plans called for building a temporary venue on USC’s baseball field. Now, organizers hope to mimic the success of the 2024 U.S. Olympic swimming trials, which have set attendance records by placing a pool inside the Indianapolis Colts’ football stadium.

SoFi’s luxury suites, restaurants and estimated 38,000 capacity for swimming could bring an additional $106 million in revenue, LA28 said. As with other venues, the math gets a bit complicated because that increase would be partly offset by $58 million in higher rent and other costs, putting the final estimated benefit at $49 million.

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An artist's rendering shows the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics gymnastics competition under neon pink lights at Crypto.com Arena.
An artist’s rendering of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics gymnastics competition at Crypto.com Arena.
(LA28)

But organizers’ ability to pick and choose — the Forum might be assigned another sport in the future — underscores L.A.’s status as one of a handful of cities worldwide that have enough existing facilities to host the Olympics without permanent construction. This surfeit is a benefit to fans.

“All these venues have so much capacity,” Wasserman said. “The opportunity to attend events is much more broad.”

The Games’ estimated $7-billion price tag is also at issue because organizers have promised to cover all costs through ticket sales, corporate sponsorships and other revenue. If they fall short, city and state legislators have agreed to serve as a financial backstop, putting taxpayers on the hook.

Adding seats by switching to larger venues could help avoid that possibility.

1

A rendering of the diving venue in Exposition Park.

2

A rendering of the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area, which is slated to host multiple Olympic events.

3

A rendering of the canoe slalom venue in Oklahoma City.

4

An artist’s rendering of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics basketball competition at Intuit Dome in Inglewood.

1. A rendering of the diving venue in Exposition Park. 2. A rendering of the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area, which is slated to host multiple Olympic events. 3. A rendering of the canoe slalom venue in Oklahoma City. 4. An artist’s rendering of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics basketball competition at Intuit Dome in Inglewood. (LA28)

“The more money you can raise through fans, the better,” Matheson said. “Every dollar that’s raised through fans is a dollar you don’t have to extract out of the taxpayer.”

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Another Olympic scholar agreed, but only to a point. Jules Boykoff, a professor of politics and government at Pacific University in Oregon, has been critical of the costs imposed on host cities. He noted that LA28’s budget was originally set at $5.3 billion and could continue to grow in coming years.

“Yeah, $150 million is something,” Boykof said. “But it’s not a massive savings.”

Finances were part, but not all, of the surprising decision to hold softball and canoe slalom four states away.

The move aligns with a recent trend that has seen the IOC scramble to assuage cities fearful of bidding for the Games and risking massive debt. IOC leadership has encouraged looking for cost savings wherever they can be found.

Oklahoma City entered the picture for LA28 because it already has two needed venues.

Its 13,000-seat softball stadium is larger than any comparable ballpark in Southern California and, located adjacent to the sport’s hall of fame, has a track record for drawing fans.

The city’s world-class canoe slalom venue, just south of downtown, will save on building a $39-million temporary course. Chamber of Commerce officials there have further sweetened the deal by offering to assume all risk; if the Games go over budget, they would cover outstanding expenses for their two venues.

“We are confident we will be an outstanding partner to LA28 in creating a dynamic environment for Olympians and fans,” Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt said in a statement.

Organizers might have had another, subtler motivation to look afar. Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole is chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee at a time when LA28 has lobbied for federal help with Games security and transportation funding.

With canoe slalom potentially leaving its original location in the Sepulveda Basin, plans for the San Fernando Valley site would be completely overhauled. Shooting would depart. Same with equestrian, because the basin isn’t large enough to satisfy the IOC’s desire to keep the sport’s three disciplines — jumping, dressage and eventing — in the same location.

LA28 has proposed holding equestrian events at Galway Downs in Temecula. In return, the Valley would get an arguably more-popular trio of skateboarding, BMX cycling and archery.

In other changes, the LA84 Foundation/John C. Argue Swim Stadium, a 1932 Olympic venue adjacent to the Coliseum, would be updated to host diving in 2028. Artistic swimming — which used to be known as synchronized swimming — would share a planned water polo venue along the oceanfront in Long Beach.

The status of potential sites such as Dodger Stadium for baseball, the Rose Bowl for soccer and Santa Monica for beach volleyball will be announced in coming months. Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson remains slated to host a number of events, but it could be a year before the list is finalized.

When the Olympics finally arrive in Southern California four years from now, all corporate venue names will temporarily disappear because of IOC sponsorship rules. Crypto.com, for example, will become the “Arena in Downtown L.A.” for 17 days.

A look at the revised 2028 Los Angeles Olympics venue plan.

As LA28 executives continue to scrutinize their plans, they have vowed to look for more savings. Wasserman referenced Peter Ueberroth, the head organizer of the 1984 Summer Games, which finished with a multimillion-dollar surplus in part because of his penchant for trimming expenses.

“When you have to pay your own bills, you have to watch every penny,” Wasserman said. “We absolutely have a history of ’84 that sets the bar for us very high.”

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