L.A. Adds Venues to Olympic Package

Nobody is going to accuse Los Angeles of trying to sneak in a bid for the 2024 Olympic Games. Recently, the city has been in the news – in a big way – working to earn more publicity for its campaign.

L.A. recently hosted its seventh town hall forum about the Olympics. This one was designed to allow more than 200 Olympic and Paralympic athletes to give input on their experience at the Games, and on L.A.’s plan as a whole.

The athletes came to the meeting in Washington D.C shortly after attending the White House Team USA celebration with President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and vice-president Joe Biden. Athletes discussed their experiences of this year’s Olympics and Paralympics at the meeting with Los Angeles 2024, which was represented by vice chair and director of athlete relations, Janet Evans, chief strategy officer Angela Ruggiero and Anita DeFrantz, the senior advisor for legacy.

“As a team, Los Angeles 2024 learned a lot in Rio – from what it means to provide an excellent in-stadium and on-screen fan experience to the power of hosting the Games against a spectacular city backdrop,” noted Evans. “However, as much as we learned as a Bid Committee, it is the athletes who have the best window into what it will take for Los Angeles 2024 to build on the Rio athlete experience, and move towards creating the most personalized Games experience in history.”

Los Angeles also continues to work on its bid package. According to an article in USA TODAY, Los Angeles recently added three existing venues to its campaign. These include the addition of Long Beach as one of four main sports clusters. LA2024 has repeatedly emphasized its use of existing venues to avoid costly construction and cost overruns that have plagued Olympic host cities in recent years.

Long Beach’s arena, convention center, waterfront and pier would comprise one of four main sports clusters scattered around the Los Angeles area as opposed to having a single Olympic Park. The city joins the other clusters of downtown Los Angeles, the South Bay near Torrance and the San Fernando Valley.

The LA2024 bid committee said each cluster will be located within a secure perimeter where fans can walk between venues with food, music and celebration sites. The clusters are connected to the region’s public transit system.

The venue changes will be included in LA2024’s second bid file that is due to the International Olympic Committee on Oct. 7.

Handball would be held in Long Beach’s 13,500-seat arena, which recently underwent $10 million in upgrades, along with warm-up facilities at the connected convention center. BMX and water polo would be held in temporary facilities along the city’s waterfront, where open-water swimming and triathlon would be held. Sailing would be near the city’s Belmont Pier.

Long Beach’s venues are located 24 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. The athletes’ village would be on the UCLA campus on Los Angeles’ west side. Honda Center in Anaheim would host indoor volleyball, bringing the Olympics to Orange County, with the 18,000-seat venue that is home to the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks located about 26 miles from Los Angeles. It would be about an hour drive from the athletes’ village.

UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, with 13,800 seats for spectators, previously planned to host volleyball, will instead host wrestling and judo.

Historic Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles would host men’s and women’s golf. The course has hosted the U.S. Open, two PGA Championships and the annual PGA tournament since it opened in 1929.

Adding sites in Long Beach and Anaheim would bring the Olympics closer to the large populations in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

LA2024 said UCLA’s tennis center and north athletic field have been added to the track and field stadium as part of the training center located at the athletes’ village in an effort to reduce additional travel for competitors.

Never missing the chance for a publicity opportunity, LA2024 said it had celebrated “a successful dress rehearsal” as students moved into the UCLA campus (planned to be used for student housing in 2014) just prior to the start of its new school year.

In late September, the field of 2024 candidate cities shrunk once again, and now includes Budapest, Los Angeles and Paris.

The announcement that Rome’s mayor, Virginia Raggi, has formally refused to support a bid for the city to host the 2024 Olympic Games was not entirely unexpected, but came as a blow to supporters nonetheless.

While history will always record where Olympic Games were held, the past two years will be remembered in sports business as a time when not just Rome but multiple other cities voluntarily backed away from the Olympic bargaining table. Four potential bidders for the 2022 winter Olympics backed out following public opposition over potential costs and disruption. (As an aside, that left only two contenders, Almaty (in Kazakhstan) and Beijing (who won the campaign.)

The summer 2024 Olympics also saw the withdrawal of Boston (eventually replaced with Los Angeles as the U.S. bid city) and Hamburg, Germany (which used a public referendum to defeat the measure.) Trivia point: The #NoBostonOlympics group was involved in helping Hamburg’s anti-Games group with its work.)

The host city election for the 2024 Games takes place in Lima, Peru on September 13, 2017. That gives the various candidate cities time to work on their bids, their venues and ultimately the public support for their campaigns.

And don’t look now, but the spin cycle for the 2026 Winter Olympics is winding up. Calgary is among the cities currently planning to bid.

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