The news is exciting, but can L.A. maintain that feeling for 11 years?
It’s wonderful. And it’s weird.
The Summer Olympics are coming back to Los Angeles, the world’s premier sporting event finally returning to the world’s greatest sporting city.
But we’re going to have to wait 11 years?
It’s a match coated in gold, the diverse beauty of the Olympics spending more than two weeks across a wonderfully diverse L.A. sports landscape that has been built on the ancient ideals of faster, higher and stronger.
But the opening ceremony isn’t happening for more than a decade?
The announcement Monday that L.A. officials have cut an unprecedented deal with the International Olympic Committee to host the 2028 Games were greeted with equal bits smiling and head scratching.
This is going to be really cool. For the thousands of Angelenos who will be part of the Games as fans or volunteers, this will produce memories that will last forever. Have you ever spoken to anyone who attended or was involved in the 1984 Games here? Even now, they can’t stop talking about it.
But as for the 2028 Games, it feels way too early
to even start talking about it. The advance notice for Olympic bids is traditionally seven years. That wait is manageable. This wait is almost unfathomable.
“To all our athletes, give ’em hell,” shouted Herb Wesson, L.A. City Council president, at Monday’s news conference at StubHub Center.
You know he was talking to, like, 10-year-olds, right?
That’s the approximate current age of many who will compete in the 2028 Games. That’s how long we have to wait. That’s how strange this all feels.
By 2028, we will have already hosted a Super Bowl in a stadium that has not yet been built, and possibly a World Cup even though it has not yet been awarded.
Lonzo Ball could be entering his 11th season in the NBA. Sam Darnold could be in his 10th season in the NFL. Clayton Kershaw will be 40.
Who knows what the city’s economic situation will look like? Who knows who will be in charge? Given all the conflict throughout the world, who knows if there will even be an Olympics?
The only thing that won’t change is that the Dodgers probably still won’t be on television.
In a town where trends shift in 11 minutes, it’s impossible to imagine anyone will be hyped for these Olympics for 11 years. But the later date allowed L.A. bid officials, led by the sharp Casey Wasserman, to actually win a negotiation with the unconscionably greedy and institutionally corrupt IOC.
It might be worth the 11 years just to watch the IOC squirm.
L.A. and Paris were initially competing for 2024, with the announcement coming this September. But the IOC wanted them both, because there are few remaining places on Earth that will bid for the economic ruin that the Olympics often inflict.
When Paris insisted on 2024, L.A. agreed to wait until 2028 if the IOC would pony up hundreds of millions of dollars in advance payments and other perks. The IOC caved because, let’s face it, the IOC is lucky that a perfect potential host like L.A., a two-time Olympic veteran, was even bidding.
So, even though the Games are going to cost $5.3 billion in mostly private funds, L.A. could end up receiving nearly $2 billion from the IOC, with some of that money coming in advance payments that are usually made after the Games. This includes around $160 million for youth sports programs leading up to the Games, a huge benefit that will affect countless neighborhoods in coming years.
There was no financial ruin in 1984, only a tremendous surplus in the most economically successful Olympics ever. That is what is being forecast here for 2028, mostly because we are ready to host the darn thing right now.
Seriously, unlike in other cities, we don’t need to hastily construct any venues that will collapse in a heap of sad dust the moment the Games leave town. No major facilities need to be built. We have stadiums and arenas and even the UCLA dorms to house Olympic athletes. The 11-year wait also gives the city a chance to finish several subway lines, although in 1984, so many people left town for fear of gridlock that traffic was a breeze.
“We want to demonstrate the tremendous, transformative power of the Games to change people’s lives for the better without risking billions of dollars on new infrastructure,” said Janet Evans, former Olympic goldmedal swimmer and the athletes director of the L.A. bid. “A human legacy.”
But we’re all just human, and so the appropriate partying will just have to wait.
Remember those videos of thousands of citizens celebrating when their country has been awarded the Olympics? The cheering throngs of Athens, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo?
It didn’t happen here. There were only a couple of hundred officials, athletes and media at Monday’s hastily arranged news conference. No marching bands. No fireworks.
Hopefully, in about four years, after at least the 2020 Games in Tokyo, they’ll officially start the Olympic countdown with a real party on L.A. streets. By then, the landscape will be more clear, the magnitude will be more apparent, and the buzz will feel more real. As for now, well, um, er … “We are here today to make history,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday.
Congratulations, but could you hold that thought?