LOS ANGELES The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board hosted a media breakfast during IMEX America this week to discuss the ways the city is evolving in time for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The games are expected to bring an estimated $18 billion economic impact to the United States, and $11.2 billion to Southern California alone.
“Los Angeles is the hottest destination on the planet right now,” said Ernest Wooden Jr., president and C.E.O. of the board, citing the $9 billion of construction activity currently happening in downtown L.A., as well as upcoming major events such as the Super Bowl in 2022. (The city is also bidding on the World Cup and the N.C.A.A. Final Four men's basketball tournament.)
“We're one of the few places in the world that doesn't have to build anything special [for these events],” he continued, noting that the Olympics Games will use venue and transportation developments that are already in the works. “No money will be thrown away.”
Here are a few ways the city plans to evolve before 2028.
1. New Stadiums and Hotels
In addition to the influx of new developments popping up downtown, Los Angeles is in the process of building and renovating several new stadiums that will be used for Olympics events.
The most notable is a massive new $2.7 million stadium in Inglewood, slated to open in 2020. The future home of the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers, the structure will be housed on a campus as large as Disneyland. The covered stadium will also be built six stories into the ground to preserve the surrounding views and landscape. “Los Angeles actually qualified for the games before the Rams stadium was even announced,” noted Wooden, but said it was likely a factor in the winning bid.
A new 22,000-seat soccer stadium is also being built adjacent to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Dubbed the Banc of California Stadium, the $350 million project is slated to open in 2018. (The Coliseum also plans to renovate in time for the University of Southern California's 2019 football home opener.)
Media and athletes will be housed in existing venues: media at U.S.C., athletes at U.C.L.A. “Usually the hurdle of the Olympics is building the athlete villages—but that's not a problem for us,” said Wooden. “The campuses will be used during the summer, when students are gone.”
Wooden also noted that there were 3,000 new hotel rooms added to Los Angeles in 2017, and 9,200 new rooms are expected to open by 2020. He says that the city can expect 760,000 hotel rooms to be booked during the games, and more than 1.1 million rooms total when considering ancillary events.
The Olympics will take advantage of upcoming transportation developments, which also were planned before the bid was accepted. By 2023, a new subway line—dubbed the Crenshaw Line—will be completed that will connect all subways to the Los Angeles International Airport. Other metro expansions include a extension of the Purple Line, which will add seven new stations opening in phases in 2023, 2025, and 2028.
The airport itself is also undergoing a $14 billion modernization, which will include a People Mover System between terminals that is slated to open in 2024. And a new Rent-A-Car Center will relocate 23 existing rental car companies into one location adjacent to the 405 freeway.
3. Marketing Initiatives
The 2028 Olympics are likely to benefit from an aggressive campaign the tourism board launched in April, which aimed to show that Los Angeles was a welcoming destination in spite of a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment across the United States. After speaking to Oxford economists—who estimated that the city could potentially lose billions of dollars of business due to the current political climate—Los Angeles launched an “Everyone Is Welcome” campaign.
“We wanted to show people that L.A.'s arms are open, that we're the most diversified city in the world—and it's our diversity that we celebrate the most,” said Wooden. The tourism board created a marketing video that emphasized the city's diversity; it has been seen by 18 million people around the world.
In addition to the video, the campaign included a memorable live stunt: International flights landing at LAX on a weekend in May were greeted by over 1,000 volunteers who work for local hotels, restaurants, and other tourism businesses. The volunteers stood in a park just north of the airport's runways, and held up signs that spelled out “Welcome” in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese.
The tourism board plans to continue the “Everyone Is Welcome” campaign in the future.
In the wake of events such as last week's mass shooting in Las Vegas, Wooden was realistic about security. “The bottom line is that some of these venues are soft targets,” he said.
This winter, the tourism board plans to host a panel detailing current safety and security thinking. The board has also been talking to venues to make sure security stays top of mind. For instance, the Los Angeles Convention Center has tripled its number of closed-circuit televisions in the last three years.
“The reality is that this is a global challenge,” said Wooden. “But Los Angeles has one of the largest police and anti-terrorism forces in the United States. And our diversity helps us. L.A. is a very involved city.”
Wooden also noted that while earthquakes, fires, and other natural disasters are no doubt an issue in Los Angeles, the city recently completed a city-wide initiative to determine which buildings are earthquake-safe. “The good news,” he said, “is that tourism rarely gets dinged after earthquakes and fires.”