Connect with us


2028 LA Olympics: Swimming Moves to an NFL Stadium

The organizers of the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles have promised to have the most ambitious sports program ever and sell more tickets than any other Games.

Now they want to be even bigger.

LA28, the organizing committee, announced on Friday that the swimming competition at the 2028 Games would be held at SoFi Stadium, the home of the Rams and Chargers, the city’s two N.F.L. teams. There will be 38,000 seats for fans, double the size of typical venues used for most Olympic swimming events — which, along with gymnastics and track and field, are one of the biggest draws for the Olympics.

“To put one of those big three Olympic sports in a spectacular venue with the capacity we could have to showcase that sport was frankly just too good an opportunity,” Casey Wasserman, chairman of the organizing committee, said in an interview.

The decision to move the swimming events into the gleaming SoFi Stadium is a reflection of the economics of hosting the Olympics. Most are heavily funded by governments and inevitably incur billions in cost overruns. This year’s Games, which begin in Paris at the end of July, may break even, officials have suggested.

The Los Angeles organizers are not receiving direct public money, and instead plan to fund their $6.9 billion budget with private sources and sponsors, duplicating the structure from the last time the city hosted the Olympics in 1984. The Games that year were also funded by private sources and ended up with a profit of about $250 million.

So far, securing sponsorship for the 2028 Games has proceeded slowly, with just Comcast and Delta officially signed on as top-tier sponsors.

A key for financial success could be the events themselves.

The organizers expect to generate about $1.2 billion in Olympic ticket revenue, with $56 million of it coming from the swimming events, according to projections they submitted as part of their bid to host the Games. Moving the swimming competition to SoFi Stadium from a temporary venue with a capacity of 17,500 built at the University of Southern California’s baseball stadium could significantly increase the dollar amount.

“I have no doubt that it will be the biggest attended swim meet in this country’s history, and maybe the most spectacular swim meet ever,” Wasserman said.

The plan is not foolproof, and it has a cascading effect on a number of other sports and venues.

The competition and warm-up pools will need to be covered so that the opening ceremony can be held at SoFi Stadium. It will take days to transform the stadium back into a swimming venue, meaning those competitions cannot take place during the first week of the Olympics, when they usually occur. Instead, track and field, which will be held at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, will take place during the first week, and swimming will be contested during the second.

In 2017, when Los Angeles was awarded to host the 2028 Olympics, SoFi Stadium was a few years away from completion, and the original plan for hosting called for the stadium to be used only for archery and the opening and closing ceremonies. Now archery will be in a new venue.

Efforts to draw larger and larger crowds to swimming events are already underway.

The U.S. qualifying trials for the Paris Olympics are being held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, home of the Indianapolis Colts. U.S.A. Swimming, the sport’s national governing body, considered bids from multiple current and former N.F.L. stadiums for the trials, which had previously been held in a 14,000-person capacity arena in Omaha, Neb., with an eye toward this year’s event being a test run for what LA28 was planning behind the scenes, Wasserman said.

Tim Hinchey, the chief executive of U.S.A. Swimming, acknowledged the risk of moving the trials to a larger venue but hoped that it would pay off both through ticket sales and in growing interest and participation in the sport leading into the 2028 Olympics. None of the sessions have sold out the 30,000 available seats, but the 22,209 people who attended Wednesday night’s finals was the largest crowd to ever watch a swim meet indoors, and the crowds for the morning preliminary sessions also set attendance records.

“It was kind of this energy that I hadn’t felt at this kind of a meet, even an international meet, before,” said Katie Ledecky, who easily won the 1,500-meter freestyle final on Wednesday. A seven-time Olympic gold-medalist, Ledecky serves on the board for LA28 and has said she hopes to compete in what would be her fifth Olympics in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles organizers were on hand in Indianapolis to learn more about hosting swimming in a football stadium. Wasserman cautioned that bigger venues might not necessarily be the default for all Olympic events in the future.

“There’s a lot of great stadiums in the world,” Wasserman said. “Only one city is probably capable of having a SoFi, and that’s L.A.”

A number of other venue changes were announced on Friday that organizers said would help generate more than $150 million in savings and revenue for 2028.

Basketball will move to the Intuit Dome, where the Clippers will play when it opens later this summer, from Arena, where the Lakers play. Gymnastics will move to the Arena from the Kia Forum. And diving, synchronized swimming and Paralympic swimming are all moving to other venues in Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Must See

More in News