The Los Angeles region and a future Olympics from a transit perspective

First, I want to be very clear about something: I have no idea whether the Los Angeles region in the future will want to bid on hosting the Olympic Games. It’s a big decision involving a lot of money and many cities across the globe have wrestled with the question — which I don’t think has been definitively answered — of whether the Games are worth pursuing, although London seems pretty happy with its Games right now.

That said, it’s hard to ignore Los Angeles’ rich history with the Olympics and the appeal of the Games. The region hosted the Summer Games in 1932 and 1984 and pursued the 2016 games, although Chicago was eventually chosen to represent the United States in the bidding process (and lost out badly to Rio de Janeiro). UPDATE: Los Angeles has been chosen as the host for the 2015 Special Olympics Summer games, the first time in 16 years the event will be held in the United States.

What I think is interesting is that with or without a future Olympics, the transit landscape in Los Angeles County will be noticeably different the next time the Games may land here. The earliest possible date would be 2024, given that the United States Olympic Committee, citing financial reasons, has said it won’t bid for the 2020 Summer Games or 2022 Winter Games. (The finalists for 2020 are Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo).

The 1984 Games here were widely considered successful; please see this excellent post on the Metro Library’s Primary Resources blog. At that time, there was no Metro Rail nor was there Metrolink. Traffic was a major, major worry in the run-up to the games although regional gridlock did not come to pass. Buses successfully ferried people to and from events and many residents and businesses altered their commuting hours to avoid traffic. It was a team win similar, I think, to last year’s non-Carmageddon.

Consider everything that has changed since 1984.

We have four big sports venues now that didn’t exist in 1984 — Staples Center, the Galen Center at USC, the Honda Center in Anaheim and the Home Depot Center in Carson. Staples Center is adjacent to the Blue and Expo lines and near the Red/Purple lines, the Galen Center is next to the Expo Line and the Honda Center is a short walk from the Metrolink and Amtrak station in Anaheim. The Home Depot Center is along some bus lines.

Former Metro CEO Roger Snoble speaks to members of the U.S. Olympic Committee on a tour of Los Angeles aboard the Blue Line in 2007. Photo: Metro.

And while I have no idea if the same venues used in 1984 would be used in the future, some of those are now better situated transit-wise than they were in 1984 — most notably the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the swimming stadium and the Sports Arena, all located in Expo Park and a short walk to three Expo Line stations. The Rose Bowl is a short shuttle bus ride away from the Gold Line in Pasadena. The Long Beach Convention Center (fencing) and marina (sailing) are near the Blue Line. Weingart Stadium at East Los Angeles College, used for field hockey in 1984, is about a mile walk or drive from the Gold Line’s Atlantic Station.

Other 1984 venues will be near future transit lines. Santa Anita Park — which hosted some equestrian events — will be a short ride from the Gold Line’s future Arcadia station, scheduled to open in 2015. The Forum is about a mile walk from the future Florence/La Brea station on the Crenshaw/LAX Line, which is scheduled for a 2018 opening. Pauley Paviion and the tennis center at UCLA are about a mile from the Rapid Bus on Wilshire Boulevard, which should have new peak hour bus lanes by 2015. If funding is found to accelerate subway construction, the Westside Subway Extension could reach Westwood by 2024. The LAX Metro Connector project proposes to build a transit connection to LAX — the type of transit (bus, light rail or people mover) and year of completion likely depends on funding and whether Measure R is accelerated.

Let’s be real. The International Olympic Committee is a political beast — as should be expected. No one really knows exactly what makes a winning bid, but based on the past it seems the IOC values (in no particular order) photogenic places, novelty, climate, infrastructure improvements (read: spectacular and/or gaudy architecture) and, undeniably most important, the prospect for a safe and secure Olympic Games.

Los Angeles is hardly the only American city that has pursued an Olympic Games or made noise about doing it in recent years. There has been talk from Dallas, New York, Chicago and Denver (for the Winter Olympics). Dallas and Denver are both in transit expansion mode, New York is adding to its largest-in-America subway system and Chicago, of course, has one of the largest rail networks in the U.S. It’s also worth noting that many cities throughout the world and here in the U.S. have leveraged the Olympic Games for infrastructure purposes. In 1984, for example, the Tom Bradley International Terminal was opened at LAX as a part of the preparation for the Games. Certainly that’s not a reason to pursue an Olympic bid but something to consider if the bid is successful.

The transit improvements being made in Los Angeles will pay off in a lot of ways — mostly for everyday people living here who need to travel throughout the region. The side benefit is that it will allow the region to confidently bid for the big events along with the world’s other major cities, including the biggest event of them all, the Olympic Games.

What do you think, Source readers? You want the Olympics back? Do you think the region could pull it off? Or would you rather see the Games land elsewhere in the U.S. or world? In keeping with Olympic spirit, please sprint in orderly fashion to the comment board.

30 replies

  1. I think Los Angeles should definitely bid again. It’s a great way to showcase the city on a world stage, which brings in tourism revenue. Hopefully, landing the Games would garner more local and federal support for expanding our rail infrastructure and expedite many of these projects. (Like the 405 Line!)

  2. As inspired as I was too watch London, I think Los Angeles is a prime candiate, and everything stated above is very true. I feel that would be a great way to show off our “New City”. However, if our subway is not open until 2024, I think it is important to wait. It would also be wise to have easy acess from our Airport. Most travelers dont like to critically think toooo much, so the easier it is to travel from LAX to downtown L.A., the more people will leave with great things to say about our city. I think many people may not stay for the entire two week duration, so imagine someone (A journalist) leaving after a one week stay and writing about how bad our traffic/transit may have been. However, and an L.A. native, I would be so porud of my city for hosying the games.

  3. As I watch the many reflections of the 84 games from a transit perspective that have sprouted up.. Los Angeles had a major advantage at the time. The agency was still the SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA Rapid Transit District and not the LOS ANGELES COUNTY Metropolitan Transportation Authority and a much larger pool of resources at the time. This was also before Foothill Transit.

    One of the big advantages LA had in 1984 was that it was a era where RTD was going through a huge fleet disposal dumping all of their old 50s, 60s and 70s era GMC Dreamliners, old looks and Flxibles to make way for the RTSs, Neoplans and 870s so LA had a nice reserve of buses and even those buses were still not enough. I remember seeing “borrowed” buses on the Div. 8 and 15 lines during that time.

    There are two major roadblocks that would have to be overcome..
    (1) During the games, Metrolink trains will need priority over freight, especially during the times of the events. Even far out venues like Lake Casitas (where the Canoeing events took place) will be accessible through Metrolink. I could see Metrolink replacing many of the Park & Ride services we had in 84 with shuttles from the stations to the venues. In other cities with significant commuter rail, the ROW is owned by the commuter operator and dispatched as such. There would need to be significant double tracking and siding work that would need to be done before we could properly handle the traffic. Additional rail ROW (including what may not be owned by SCRRA) will need to be considered for temporary services (which may someday lead to more permanent services)..

    (2) A visitor intensive event that is very transit dependent will never be able to happen without a visitor friendly fare collection system. Metro’s recent changes to TAP-only is anything but that. Passengers will need a fare method that is flexible and easy to understand. They should not be required to purchase a TAP card to use the system. Major cities like Tokyo and London have TAP style cards (PASSMO/Suica & Oyster respectively), but one trip paper tickets are still an option. In London, those who had event tickets were also given a travel card which gave them access to the London area as well as the routes outside of London going to venues. But people will be visiting the city with no cars and may need to make an occasional ride or they are attending events that do not require a ticket (e.g. marathon).

    While Los Angeles now has better capacity to select venues, the decreased bus inventory and operation properties vs. SCRTD 1984 may create a fleet shortfall. Just do what they did in 1984, schedule a major fleet disposal to take place after the end of the games and hope you have some good storage space.

  4. There is no “Pond of Anaheim” anymore…it’s the Honda Center.

    Yes, Los Angeles should host the 2024 Olympic Games. Let’s bring ’em here!

  5. The 1984 Games were a lot of fun, spoiled a bit by an unfortunate boycott (I blame President Carter). My cousin and I were able to go to far-flung venues (from Anaheim to Malibu) traveling easily on surprisingly empty freeways. My dad also enjoyed crashing the track and field events back in 1932 (when the city and the games were both much smaller affairs and security was not a big issue).

    The Coliseum is, I believe, the only place to hold the track and field events more than once at an Olympics, and it would be great to give it a three-peat (with some refurbishment). LA knows how to give a party, and I’m sure we could pull it off again. The enhanced infrastructure (venues and transportation) will only enhance the experience.

  6. Although I think that developing countries like Brazil, Turkey, and South Africa should get their turns, if an Olympics were held in North America there is no better place than Los Angeles. The decentralization of the metro area actually helps alleviate event congestion, although I would like to see the Olympic Village and most of the marquee events in a core around the USC, Cal State LA, and Downtown areas, instead of dispersed amongst the entire region with events at UCLA and Loyola – you can do qualifying there but if someone wants to see swimming and tennis in the same day, they shouldn’t have to travel 20 miles. Although baseball is no longer in the Olympics, Dodger Stadium could be used as a soccer venue.

    On the bus situation, you would likely have most buses manufactured in the US diverted to LA to serve as a temporary fleet. This is what happened to our Neoplans in the mid-90’s, some of which were diverted to Atlanta for use there. Also by 2024 there should be a football stadium somewhere in LA, in addition to the Coliseum. If the stadium was downtown that would be another possible venue.

  7. LA should AIM for the Centennial of 2032. The politics at play may make it hard for the US to land a spot anytime soon, but with much of the entertainment industry located in LA it should make for a compelling reason for the Olympics to make a return engagement. It should be noted that by 2032 we should see a Metro system close to it’s peak and possibly accelerate future changes. LA made a successful (profitable?) run last time and has many venues that could be reused. I only wonder what USC would think. I believe that they have the master lease to the Coliseum. The AEG proposal for a new stadium would probably not work as a replacement for the Coliseum (too small).

  8. “The International Olympic Committee is a political beast — as should be expected. No one really knows exactly what makes a winning bid, but based on the past it seems the IOC values (in no particular order) photogenic places, novelty, climate, infrastructure improvements (read: spectacular and/or gaudy architecture) and, undeniably most important, the prospect for a safe and secure Olympic Games.”

    You forgot the most important thing: money. The USOC and the IOC had been feuding over revenue sharing, and Chicago’s bid was essentially killed because of the impasse. Now that a deal has been worked out, the IOC has pretty much invited the USOC to make a bid for 2024. And with NBC’s contract to televise the games up after the 2020 games, an American games would be a nice carrot to dangle in front of the US networks to get some more money out of them.

    The 1984 Games were so successful that they pretty much saved the Olympics, so Los Angeles has tons of good-will built up in the IOC. But my money would be on that city that also has a huge transit system and plenty of existing venues, and one that will also happen to be throwing itself a 400th birthday party in 2024: New York.

  9. ABSOLUTELY…YES! Los Angeles should bid for a third Olympics! Both the 1932 and 1984 games were stunning success stories in L.A. and there is every reason to expect that a THIRD TIME in the City of Angels would be a CHARM once again.

    I was here in 1984 (just graduated from UCLA), and worked on several Olympic events activities at UCLA and attended numerous Olympic events sround the city: track and field (including seeing Carl Lewis win Gold in both the Long Jump and as anchor in the men’s 4×100 relay!) at the Coliseum, swimming and diving at the McDonald’s Swim Stadium at USC, gymnastics at Pauley Pavilion (witnessing three Bruins – Peter Vidmar, Mitch Gaylord, and Tim Daggett – along with Bart Conner win the Team Gold Medal for the U.S. at Pauley; plus Mary Lou Retton winning All-Around Gold), and tennis (demonstration sport) at the L.A. Tennis Center at UCLA. The Royal Shakespeare Company (among many others) performed at Royce Hall during the Olympic Arts Festival. “Festive Federalism” banners lined the city’s streets – and traffic flowed, the freeways worked, and the massive congestion that was predicted simply never materialized. It was a MAGICAL time in L.A. It felt like ANYTHING WAS POSSIBLE in this incredible city.

    Who could forget that amazing Opening Ceremony produced by David Wolper (of “Roots” fame) – from the “Jet Man” blasting off from the Coliseum floor, to the 84 Grand Pianos playing Gershwin’s magnificent “Rhapsody in Blue,” to seeing the ENTIRE audience at the Coliseum create a magnificent tapestry of all the flags of the Olympic nations in one GIGANTIC card stunt, to seeing Bruin Decathlon legend and Olympic Gold Medalist Rafer Johnson light the Olympic Torch? We should absolutely rekindle that magic once again! Look at the incredible spirit of OPTIMISM the captured all of London these past 16 days.

    Los Angeles is THE MOST OLYMPIC-READY CITY in the U.S. and perhaps in the WORLD! New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas…all would have to spend BILLIONS and BILLIONS just to construct the main Olympic stadium and other needed venues. Not in L.A.! We have every single major venue that existed or was built for the 1984 Summer Games (the Velodrome at Cal State Dominguez Hills, the McDonald’s Swim Stadium at USC, etc.). Since 1984 L.A. has added: Staples Center, Galen Center at USC, Home Depot Center in Carson, Honda Center in Anaheim, Nokia Theater, Spieker Aquatics Center at UCLA, L.A. Live (which would serve as a major hub and gathering place for our international visitors), and more. Plus…UCLA is completing a $136 million renovation of Pauley Pavilion this fall, the Rose Bowl is undergoing a $170 million renovation, USC’s McDonald’s Swim Stadium is receiving an $18 million upgrade next year, and the historic Coliseum will undoubtedly be massively improved and renovated within the next decade (once USC takes over management of the stadium from the Coliseum Commission, which appears inevitable).

    Added to that, is the high degree of likelihood that EITHER AEG’s “Farmers Field” in Downtown L.A. OR Majestic Realty’s L.A. Football Stadium at “Grand Crossing” (City of Industry) will be built within the next 10-12 years (FINALLY bringing NFL Football back to L.A.). In fact, if the Olympics were to be held in L.A. tomorrow, the ONLY new competition venue that would have to be built from scratch would be the shooting range (which would be built at the Fairplex in Pomona).

    In 1984 there were three Olympic Villages – two “main” Villages – one at UCLA and the other at USC, and a third smaller Village for the Olympic rowers in Santa Barbara, near the rowing venue at Castaic Lake. Since 1984, UCLA has nearly quadrupled its dorm space; by 2016 UCLA will have some 16,500 beds on “The Hill”. So…the ENTIRE Athlete’s Village could now be housed in Westwood, while the “Olympic Family” (coaches, trainers, press, entourage members, etc.) would be housed at the USC dorms.

    Of course, as Steve Hymon notes above, our regional TRANSPORTATION and TRANSIT INFRASTRUCTURE are LIGHT YEARS ahead of where they were in 1984. Our subway, heavy rail, MetroLink, light rail, and entire transit systems throughout L.A County have been vastly improved and expanded in the past three decades.

    The earliest the Summer Games could return to L.A. is 12 years from now – 2024. If L.A. misses out on that year, then 1928 is a good bet. And the absolute fallback position is 2032 (the Centennial of the 1932 Games). But do we REALLY want to wait 20 YEARS to bring back the greatest athletic and cultural spectacle in the world to L.A.?

    The last time the Olympics were held on U.S. soil was a decade ago, in 2002 for the Winter Games in Salt Lake City. That means it will be AT LEAST 22 years since the U.S. will have hosted an Olympic Games. That is a VERY long time…and a very important fact. There is a STRONG financial incentive for NBC as the American broadcast network to have the Games return to the U.S. (Television ad revenue is VASTLY greater whenever the Olympics are held here “at home”.) Since the IOC receives a HUGE chunk of that American T.V. revenue, the IOC, too, has a great incentive to bring the Games back to the U.S. every 20-28 years.) The IOC and the USOC just recently (in May 2012) settled a long-running dispute over how FUTURE television revenues would be shared between the IOC and USOC. (In fact, that dispute reportedly was THE CRITICAL FACTOR why New York lost out the 2012 Summer Games to London, AND why Chicago was voted out IN THE VERY FIRST ROUND of international balloting for the 2016 Summer Games, which were eventually awarded to Rio de Janiero…bringing the Olympics to the South American continent for the very first time.) That MAJOR impediment to bringing the Games back to American soil is now RESOLVED!

    There is another thing you should know – the new CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee is Scott Blackmun – former COO of Anschutz Entertainment Group (and a Dartmouth and Stanford Law grad). Don’t you think AEG Owner Philip Anschutz and CEO Tim Leiweke would simply LOVE to see the Olympics return to L.A. (since AEG already owns Staples Center, Home Depot Center, Nokia Theater, L.A. Live (which has more than a few luxury condos still left to sell in that Ritz Carlton/Marriott Tower) – AND they will own Farmers Field if it gets built!)? In fact, having the Olympics return to L.A. practically GUARANTEES that a new football stadium (EITHER Farmers Field OR Grand Crossing) gets financed and built in L.A.

    We haven’t even mentioned THE WEATHER…our virtually perfect Mediterranean climate. L.A. has the MOST IDEAL WEATHER for an Olympics (no humidity), PLUS the ability of international athletes to train year-round in the ALREADY EXISTING OLYMPIC VENUES!

    Then there is the “historic” aspect of L.A. and the Olympic Movement. The City of the Angels has practically “saved” the Summer Games – TWICE. First, in 1932, amid the bleakness of the Great Depression, the idea of the OLYMPIC VILLAGE was invented in L.A. in order to “save” the 1932 Summer Games…out of necessity. Many nations feared the high cost of sending, housing, and feeding their athletes during such difficult financial times. So L.A. constructed a temporary “Olympic Village” in the Baldwin Hills area (since razed), are guaranteed to each National Olympic Committee to house and feed each athlete for something like $8 per day. (That’s when the tradition of Helms Bakery Bread – “the bread of Olympians” – was born. Helms Bakery Trucks delivered fresh baked loaves of bread right from their Helms Bakery in Culver City to the newly minted Olympic Village in Baldwin Hills.) The 1932 Games were a stunning success amid a very difficult time in the world.

    THEN…in 1984 L.A. “saved” the games once again. In the aftermath of the financial disaster that Montreal suffered after hosting the 1976 Summer Games (largely due to runaway construction costs, building a lavish main Olympic Stadium, etc.), only two cities submitted a bid for the 1984 games: Los Angeles and Tehran. There was NO WAY the IOC was going to award the games to Tehran (in the wake of the Iranian Hostage crisis)…so L.A. won the Games essentially by default. California Governor Jerry Brown, L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley, and LAOOC President Peter Ueberroth promised a “Spartan Olympics” – privately financed and free of the grossly excessive construction costs that hobbled Montreal. Under Ueberroth’s brilliant leadership, L.A. showed the world how an Olympics could be privately financed, without massive subsidies from the Federal, State, or local government.

    This ushered in the advent of extensive corporate sponsorship to underwrite the Games, which allowed the 1984 Olympics to earn a whopping $200 million in net proceeds! That was simply UNHEARD OF in previous Olympic history. Once again, L.A. showed the IOC how an Olympics could be successfully staged without financially crippling the host city (as happened in Montreal, and more recently in Athens).

    L.A. has been a wonderful home to the Olympics twice before, and a THIRD TIME would be simply incredible! This past February, Los Angeles played host to the 5th IOC World Conference on Women and Sports. There Anita DeFrantz (a 1976 Olympic rower and one of only three U.S. members on the IOC), along with Mayor Villaraigosa publicly announced to the IOC representatives assembled that Los Angeles would be very interested in hosting a THIRD Olympics. (London has already performed the Olympic hat-trick, and thus paved the way for Los Angeles.) Let the competition for the Games begin….!

    Why should you care? Besides all the excitment, the athletics, the arts and culture, the inspiration for our youth, and all the rest of the hoopla that surrounds the Games, somehow, when the Olympics are being planned, ALL SORTS OF INFRASTRUCTURE gets completed in a host city. All sorts of CIVIC IMPROVEMENTS are one of the lasting legacies of an Olympic Games (transit infrastructure, airport terminals, public parks, etc.).

    Just imagine what the L.A. County regional transit system will look like – and how EASY we will all be able to get around – once the Purple Line, all the light rail lines (Gold Line, Green Line, Expo Line, etc.), Downtown Regional Connector, the Sepulveda Pass from the Valley-to-the-Westside (or to LAX?) connector, and all the other countywide transit improvements are completed? And LAX (and maybe our other regional airports?) too would be due for a makeover – the Tom Bradley International Terminal was built for the 1984 Olympics. Who knows…maybe the “Subway to the Sea” might actually be extended westward past the planned Westwood VA terminus to reach closer to Santa Monica and the beach (One can at least hope.)

    Beyond all this infrastructure, there is the somewhat intangible factor of Los Angeles being quite simply one of the most “International” cities in the world in terms of its citizenry. L.A. is now home to the largest Korean population outside of Seoul. We have the largest Mexican population outside of Mexico City. We have the largest (fill in the blank) population outside of the capital cities of DOZENS of other nations. Los Angelenos speak something like 200+ languages. We have the faces of every nation and every continent among our residents.

    L.A. is an astonishingly YOUNG city as well – certainly compared to such ancient capitals such as Athens, Beijing, and London all of which have recently hosted the Games. We are a vibrant and youthful city filled with a spirit of incredible creativity and freedom. And of course, we are home to HOLLYWOOD…and Disneyland…and Universal Studios…and Grauman’s Chinese. We are the Entertainment Capital of the Planet, with all the magical imagery (and goofiness) that connotes around the world. We are also a city of DREAMS. And isn’t the Olympics all about the youth of the world…Gabby Douglas, Missy Franklin, Tom Daley, Katie Ledecky…reaching and striving for their DREAMS?

    No one said it will be easy to land a THIRD Olympics in Los Angeles. It will be difficult. It will take work. It will take luck. It will take planning. It will take a financial wizard like Ueberroth. It will take optimism. It will require believing in ourselves, and believing in what the people of Los Angeles can do when we work together for the greater good…and when we join hands together to Welcome the World. WE HAVE DONE IT BEFORE…LET’S DO IT AGAIN!

  10. Los Angeles cannot host the Olympics again as they have hosted it twice before and the Olympics rules state that no city can host more than twice.

  11. You understandably omitted the IOC’s inordinate fondness for massive bribes

  12. There are a lot of problems LA needs to get fixed first before we even get the Olympics again. The biggest issue of them all is that we STILL do not have direct rail to LAX.

    Name me any city that hosted the Olympics in recent times where they DIDN’T have direct rail access to the airport. This is very important because that’s the first thing IOC officials look at when they come and see the city for the first time whether it’s good to be put onto the ballot.

    But gee, what is the first impression of most people upon arrival to LAX? The horrendous traffic jams in the World Way loop. The number of redundant hotel, car rental, and parking lot shuttle buses that create more traffic. Yeah, like that’s really going to impress the IOC officials. Instant FAIL – don’t even bother applying.

    LA: “But, but, but, we have the G Shuttle to the Metro Green Line Aviation Station!”
    IOC: “Puh-leeeze.”
    LA: “We’re also planning building the Crenshaw Line too…?”
    IOC: “SNORE. Get back to us when you have something real, solid, and already running like London or Tokyo.”

    Cities that already have direct rail to airports are better suited to host the Olympics. If an US city were to be chosen, Chicago, New York, or San Francisco would beat out LA anyday.

    And remember, the last Olympics we held was because nobody else wanted to do it. We got the 1984 Olympics because we were the only city bidding for it. The chances of LA winning a bid among competing cities that have far better public transit systems is zero.

  13. You are forgetting that another prime facility will (likely) be open by 2024: Farmers Field in downtown.

    The fact that L.A. would have to build very few (if any) sporting venues should push this city to the top of any list. As you note, the novelty is not there, since L.A. has hosted twice already. But seeing that London just hosted for the third time, why not? L.A. has the ideal weather, venues, and by 2024 will have decent transit. In addition, more athletes train (and win medals) in L.A. than any other city in the USA. Let’s give them home field advantage!

  14. You all forget thet the IOC rules state that a host city can only host the Olympics twice, in their own rules well LA has done that so unless they change their own rules this has no bearing on anything. they cannot have them here again!!!

    • London just held its third Olympic Games — the first two were in 1908 and 1948. Los Angeles would not have applied for a bid for 2016 if it didn’t have a realistic chance of being accepted.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  15. @ Interested

    You’re not sure if USC would be interested in having the Olympics in their venues for a couple weeks?

    Well… we light the Olympic Torch at every home football game. We’ve produced more olympians, overall medalists, and gold medalists than any US university. We just came off our MOST SUCCESSFUL OLYMPICS EVER, with USC-affiliated athletes winning 25 medals, including 12 gold, 9 silvers, and 4 bronze. USC athletes have won a gold medal at every Summer Olympics for the past 100 years. The NBC broadcast repeatedly featured USC’s olympics stats and featured shots of the campus in the intro to the opening ceremonies.

    I’d think USC would be willing to showcase a bit of that talent right here at home, don’t you?

  16. LAX Traveler,

    Where does New York have a direct link from the airport into Manhattan? What in the world are you talking about?

    Also, just because a line goes directly from the airport to a downtown doesn’t mean it is convenient for an Olympics. San Francisco was going to have most of its events in Oakland and Berkely per its last bid. Also, even though BART goes through San Francisco, there aren’t many hotels on the station routes so you have to transfer. That is even the case in Chicago to some extent. You take the Blue Line downtown, but then need to transfer to another line to go to many of the Hotels.

  17. Matt,

    “Also, just because a line goes directly from the airport to a downtown doesn’t mean it is convenient for an Olympics.”

    The Olympics brings in lots of tourists, officials, athletes, journalists from around the world that practically the host city’s population jumps up by that much temporarily. Do you think with the existing infrastructure, our poor public transportation system can handle over a quarter of a million temporary new residents?

    How are you going to expect 250,000 new residents in LA to get to venues? Make them all rent cars? Cram them into the G shuttle and make all of them stand in long lines and take turns riding the Green Line from Aviation station?

    Why do you think IOC officials look at public transportation access to the airport as a key factor when choosing the Olympics in recent years?

    “Table 1: IOC selection criteria for the 2020 Olympics bidding process

    General infrastructure
    • High-capacity road and public transport infrastructure
    • International airport with effective public transport and road networks
    • High-tech international broadcast centre close to the Olympic Village

    Transport system
    • Dedicated transport available to all competition venues
    • Distances and travel times between Olympic venues
    • Reliability of urban travel times along major traffic routes”

  18. LAX Traveler,

    This wouldn’t be until 2024 when you would have the Crenshaw Line and most likely the airport connection most likely via a people mover so referring to Shuttle G is misleading. Lets compare the infrastructure in 2024 not today to keep it apples to apples. Also, you never answered the question on how New York has a better airport connection?

    Like I said even in San Francisco and Chicago which do have direct connections from their Downtowns to the Airport, you are going to have to transfer in most cases to get to your hotel or the events. That isn’t much different than transferring from the Crenshaw to Expo Line, which will go all through Downtown with the Regional Connector as well as connect to the major venues of the Coliseum, Staples, Galen Center and the Olympic Village at SC.

    BART had 367k riders in June, while LA Metrorail had 362k, yet people think SF has excellent public transport and LA has none. We are talking 2024 anyway and the power of Measure R will be evident by then.

    • Hi Matt;

      Good point about BART versus Metro — and I can tell you there are a lot of people at Metro watching as Metro Rail’s average weekday ridership gets closer to that of BART. One important point to consider: the BART numbers do not include the 160,000-plus average weekday riders on San Francisco Muni’s light rail system — the trains that run on and under streets in the city of San Francisco. So BART and SF Muni combined are carrying more than a half million boardings on weekdays, a pretty good haul. I expect those numbers will one day be rivaled by Metro as our system expands. In the next decade, Expo Phase 2, the Gold Line Foothill Extension, Crenshaw/LAX Line, Regional Connector and Westside Subway Extension should, I predict, bring tens of thousands of new boardings to Metro.

      Also a good point about transfering to get to events. I think it remains to be seen if a transfer or transfers to reach LAX via Metro Rail (and the eventual LAX Metro Connector project) will deter people. I expect it will some, but not others who will find Metro Rail is still a cheap and predictable way to get to the airport.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  19. If LA did not get the Summer Olympics anytime soon, could there be a Southern California hosting of the Winter Olympics? Have the outdoor events in the mountains and the indoor events in LA? Lake Placid used artificial snow in 1980.

  20. Matt,

    The point I was making was in direct rebuttal to your question “What in the world are you talking about? Also, just because a line goes directly from the airport to a downtown doesn’t mean it is convenient for an Olympics.”

    The fact is that having a direct rail access to LAX is a major factor in the selection criteria by the IOC. We do not live in 1984 where we practically got the Olympics by default because no one else wanted to do it. If we want the Olympics, it’ll be in direct competition with other world class cities that have better mass transit than ours.

    And let’s face it, Measure R or with the Crenshaw Line, we’ll still have a pitiful transit system compared to Tokyo or London. If it’s between LA to Tokyo, and if the IOC considers transportation infrastructure high upon on their selection list, it doesn’t take much to consider that Tokyo will kick LA’s butts in a heartbeat.

    How do you even compete against a city that has been running a city with dozens of rail lines, subways, private and public transit for decades, when LA can’t even fix the problems on the Expo and Blue Lines and can’t even get TAP right? How do you compete with a city which has the world’s most profitable and most efficient monorail system directly to it’s downtown airport (Haneda) to a city where we are just now considering building a LIGHT RAIL to the airport? How do you compete against a city which can place venues in the outskirts of the city that are connected with an arsenal of bullet trains and long distance intercity trains that are timed to an efficiency like a Swiss clock with frequencies that put Metrolink to shame? Tokyo can build new stadiums in the outskirts of the city and tourists, athletes and judges can get there using bullet trains in less than an hour. If they miss a train, there’s another one five minutes later. How about LA? If you build a new stadium in the San Fernando Valley, how do you expect people to get there? Renting a car? Use Metrolink? Miss the train, wait another two hours sitting at a desolate train station?

    Sad to say that I see that LA won’t be able to have an Olympics until a lot of problems with our transit infrastructures are fixed first. Unless no one wants to do the Olympics again, LA has to face the reality that our transportation system sucks big time to other world class cities. In that light, that was the reason why I said there are even better cities in the US like San Francisco, Chicago, and New York that are better suited for a candidate city than LA.

    If LA is serious about bringing back the Olympics fair game by competing the bid with other cities (instead of the last time where they got it by default), it needs to step up to the plate and get serious about fixing everything that’s wrong with Metro. And the solution to fix such problems in LA takes beyond the solution of “let’s extend Measure R tax indefinitely.”

  21. As much as I would like to see the Games return to L.A., I don’t see it happening. The IOC sees L.A. as its safety net. They don’t necessarily see us as a world class city worthy of being awarded a bid. Truth of the matter is we have never won a true Olympic bidding competition. Both for the ’32 and ’84 games, no other city bid for them. If there should ever be a time when no other city bids, the IOC will probably come begging us to save them once again.

    As far as L.A. being able to host the Games with the projected rail lines in 2024, I think we could do it. This day in age, locals can not only adjust their work schedules (as was mentioned in the article re: ’84 Games) but they could probably work from home. The internet in 1984 wasn’t quite what it is today, not to mention what it could be in 2024.

  22. I think L.A. has a good chance of getting the Olympics again. The current transit improvements will certainly help and are a step in the right direction. Hopefully, we’ll get our infrastructure up to world class standards by 2030 or 2040.

  23. The only way LA will ever get the Olympics is when no else wants to do it again. 1932 and 1984, we got it because there was no competition:

    “The selection process for the 1932 Summer Olympics consisted of one bid, from Los Angeles, which ultimately hosted the games. The selection was made at the 23rd IOC Session in Rome, Italy, in 1923.”

    “The selection process for the 1984 Summer Olympics consisted a single finalized bid, with the International Olympic Committee accepting the bid of Los Angeles. A bid from Tehran was withdrawn before the selection. Los Angeles had unsuccessfully bid for the two previous Summer Olympics, for 1976 and 1980. The United States Olympic Committee had at least one bid for every Olympics since 1944, but had not succeeded since the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932, the previous time a single bid had been issued for the Summer Olympics.”

    When there is true competition with other world class cities, LA is way at the bottom of the list. Basically, we’re just a backup city for the IOC in case no one wants to do it again. Everyone knows that transit sucks so bad in this city that there are far better choices elsewhere.

    If LA is serious about COMPETING with other cities to bring back the Olympics, that means lots of drastic changes are needed so that LA becomes worthy of competing with other cities for the bid. Otherwise, there’s no denying it, LA just can’t get transit right and it’ll be that way today, tomorrow, and in 2024 and beyond.

    And by that, Metro needs to take responsibility for their own actions. They need to stop being the bureaucratic tax sucking entity that it is today and start operating like a business.

    They need to stop come crying back to taxpayers to solve their problems and instead find ways to make more revenue on their own.

    They need to stop using bait-and-switch tactics like hidden fees and taxes that are illegal (hint hint: TAP!).

    They need to stop wasting money on things that make no revenue like artwork and instead focus using tax funds to those that do like creating more retail space for businesses.

    They need to end this stupid flat rate policy and move towards something more logical like distance or zone fares like how they do in Tokyo and London.

    Simply said, the whole attitude of Metro needs to change from top to bottom.

    Every other world class city with excellent mass transit is doing this except LA. Transit agencies in very other city in the world actually WORKS HARD instead of keep coming back to taxpayers for more money or concocting ingenious ways to steal more from Angelinos.

    And you expect LA to win the Olympic bid? A city whose only answers to their problem is “hey, why don’t we just extend taxes indefinitely, jack up the fares, and make drastic cutbacks” has a chance of winning against cities like Tokyo and Paris?

    A city like LA who are only just now, in 2012 for crying out loud, is only starting to DISCUSS about linking LIGHT RAIL to LAX? Cities in the US that have true direct airport links like Chicago, San Francisco, heck even St. Louis (they hosted 1904 Olympics) has a far better chance of winning a bid than LA.

    The Olympics is about competition, working hard, and only the best wins the gold. If LA is serious about the Olympics, they need to put the Olympic spirit in them. You can’t get the gold when LA’s answers is “gimme more money, let me steal more money, and let me slack off”

  24. We can argue about LA’s transit deficiencies all day long, but by any reasonable assessment, our transit infrastructure is head and shoulders above what it was in 1984. That said, will our transit system (and myriad other Olympic pros and cons) net us another Olympics by 2032? Who knows?

    Regardless, LA *will* be hosting the Special Olympics World Summer Games in July 2015. Sure, it’s not a full-blown Olympics, but it will be the first time the Summer Special Olympics have been held in America in 16 years, I believe. With 21 sporting events, 7,000 athletes, and half a million spectators, it will at least give our region (and hopefully Metro!) a chance to shine on an international stage.

    • Hi Alika;

      You are correct. The Special Olympics are in Los Angeles in 2015; here’s the website. It’s a great, great event and every bit as important as the Olympics to those who compete and help organize.

      Thanks for leaving the comment and information!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  25. Sad to say, I agree with the comments that LA has a long way to go to bring back the Olympics. The competition out there is just too tough for a city like LA whose still trying to figure out a simple thing like TAP.

    Drastic changes to the way how Metro operates is a prerequisite for LA to ever host the Olympics again. And by the looks of it, Metro ain’t listening.

    Unless World War III starts and no one wants to do it again, LA will only get the Olympics by default just like they did in 1932 and 1984.

  26. LAX Frequent Flyer,

    How did Rio obtain the 2016 Olympics? They have no airport metro connection as the only way to take public transit from their airport is via bus.