Casey Wasserman Details Major Venue Changes for LA28 Olympics (Like Swimming at SoFi Stadium)

LA28 chairman Casey Wasserman on Friday unveiled updated blueprints for the Olympics with four years, three weeks and two days to go before the games land in Los Angeles.

The makeover includes major changes to venues and locations — swimming at SoFi Stadium, gymnastics at Arena and softball way out of state in Oklahoma, to name a few — that are designed to boost fan and athlete experiences, and make use of existing stadiums while trimming needs for temporary ones. Perhaps more importantly, the reshuffled deck will have a massive impact on the bottom line by cutting costs and increasing revenue (through added ticket sales at larger venues) to the tune of $156 million.

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Key to the changes will be the ability to utilize infrastructure like staff and operations that come with established venues. Something that won’t be leaned on will be corporate names at venues like SoFi Stadium and Arena due to current guidelines imposed by the International Olympic Committee. For now, the venues will be billed with generic names like Arena or Stadium, which could change as time goes on.

Casey Wasserman photographed at an LA28 event in Los Angeles on March 2, 2020.
Casey Wasserman photographed at an LA28 event in Los Angeles on March 2, 2020.

“LA28 does not have the typical construction costs associated with the games, bringing greater cost certainty to our program. Our venues, most of which are new or recently remodeled, are run by world-class operators and staff who are experts in delivering major events at the epicenter of sport, culture and creativity,” Wasserman said on Friday during a press briefing attended by The Hollywood Reporter on Zoom. “Since we put out our initial venue plan in 2017, there’s obviously been a lot of activity in Los Angeles with stadiums and arenas being built, and it just makes our plan even more exciting.”

Gymnastics will shift from the Forum to Downtown L.A.’s Arena, home to professional sports teams like the Lakers, Kings and Sparks. The gridiron at Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium, home to the Super Bowl-winning Rams and Chargers, will be transformed to house the largest swimming venue in Olympic history with 38,000 seats. Organizers are getting a test run right now in the current Olympic Team Trials that are taking place in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium which has been redesigned with an Olympic pool on the football field.

A rendering of a pool placed inside Inglewood's SoFi Stadium that will be used for the L.A. 28 Olympics
A rendering of what a pool would look like inside Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium during the LA28 Olympic games. During that time, the stadium will be renamed Stadium in Inglewood.

“We think swimming, clearly one of the most popular Olympic sports, merits this additional seating capacity along with all the best in class technological capabilities and comforts that will benefit athletes and fans,” Wasserman noted, adding that the decision to move from USC to SoFi ultimately came down to previously reported changes happening at the university in regards to “use plans for their campus.” He said conversations have been in the works for several years on how to best proceed in time for the games. “We’ve been working on it, working through the technical planning, working through the cost opportunities, the revenue opportunities, the schedule changes. There’s a lot of pieces as you might imagine when you want to take on a project like this.”

With gymnastics at Crypto, the basketball competition will move to the newest venue in Los Angeles, the Intuit Dome in Inglewood. Athletics and Para Athletics will stay at the recently refurbished L.A. Memorial Coliseum. Diving will return to Exposition Park in the same pool that hosted aquatics events in the 1932 Olympic Games. San Fernando Valley’s Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area will host BMX Freestyle, BMX Racing, skateboarding and archery. Moving out of the Sepulveda Basin will be Equestrian and Para-Equestrian competitions, which are now slated to be held at an existing facility in Temecula.

A rendering of the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area for L.A. 28 Olympic games
A rendering of the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area for LA28 Olympic games.

In other big news, softball and canoe slalom will move far outside the state — to Oklahoma City. In its effort for sustainability and to cut down on the push for new construction, the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020+5 issued recommendations that allowed for existing venues outside host cities to welcome various competitions where necessary. Southern California does not have a canoe slalom venue, and its largest softball complex seats less than 2,000 people.

Per today’s news, the IOC executive board has approved venue assignments for Olympic sports, pending approval from the City of Los Angeles and its council. The full rundown of the plan updates can be found here, including news on the schedule and other sports.

A rendering of L.A. Memorial Coliseum for the L.A. 28 Olympic games
A rendering of L.A. Memorial Coliseum for the L.A. 28 Olympic games.
A rendering of a refashioned Arena for LA28 Olympic games.
A rendering of a refashioned Arena for LA28 Olympic games.
A rendering of Exposition Park for the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028.
A rendering of the pool facility in Exposition Park that will be used for LA28.

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