With a wealth of world-class assets at its disposal, Los Angeles can host the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games without building a single new permanent venue. It is an extraordinary statement, but thanks to its “radical reuse” concept, this is set to be a much heralded reality. To explain just what this concept means in detail and why it suits LA perfectly, Brence Culp, LA2028’s Chief Impact Officer, answered a few questions for us.
Can you explain the concept ‘radical reuse’?
What we are doing is creating the Games to fit our city and not changing our city to fit the Games.
Los Angeles is already a thriving sports city, home to 11 pro sports teams which sell well over 10 million tickets per year. And more sports teams and more sports stadiums are coming to town all the time. We also have extraordinary, world-class universities in the heart of the city: UCLA (University of California) and USC (University of Southern California).
Because of these assets, we will be able to host the Olympics and Paralympics without changing our city to fit the Games. It became very apparent to us early in the bid stage that we should look to that as our distinguishing factor and apply our creativity to structure a Games plan to make use of everything we already have.
Even since we initially bid for the Games, really impressive, world-class facilities have been built or are being built in Los Angeles that we will be able to use for the LA 2028 Games. This August, we were able to show the IOC’s delegation around three exceptional, privately funded venues that have made rapid progress since LA was awarded the Games in September 2017: the Rams NFL Stadium, LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium, and USC’s Coliseum upgrades. By the time 2028 comes around, we will have our beautiful historical facilities, like the Rose Bowl and the LA Memorial Coliseum, and we will also have new state-of-the-art stadiums which will be open to welcome the athletes of the world.
We want to embody the IOC’s New Norm and the opportunities for flexibility it offers, in order to continue to refine our Games plan so we can make the best use of this incredible smorgasbord of assets that exists and will exist here.
Did you ever consider demolishing some of the existing stadiums, like the LA Memorial Coliseum and building more modern, environmentally-friendly ones?
We were fond of saying during the bid phase, and it remains true, that the most sustainable venue is the one you don’t have to build. To tear down a venue and build a new one, purely from an environmental standpoint, represents an enormous carbon footprint. For us, working with existing venues is the best way to go.
The Coliseum is a great example. It was completed in 1923, but the fact that it is nearly 100 years old doesn’t mean it can’t be modernised to meet ours – and the city’s – sustainability ambitions. The Coliseum, under the stewardship of USC, is undergoing a USD 250 million-plus renovation and upgrade plan. In addition, last year USC made good on a two-year commitment to achieve zero waste. On average USC football games – or Rams (NFL team) football games – are getting 50,000-70,000 fans per match, and to be able to achieve zero waste at a venue that was built in the 1920s is an amazing feat.
The Coliseum is the iconic symbol of the Olympics in LA, host to both the 1932 and 1984 Games, and it has immeasurable and irreplaceable value. From an emotional point of view, it is worth every investment anybody could imagine making in it.
What other measures are existing stadiums adopting to become more sustainable?
They have a lot of options – changing the landscaping or the method of irrigation, switching the lighting, adding energy systems or energy storage options. Take the Staples Centre, which will host basketball in 2028. It was built in the late 1990s and it recently had fuel cells installed to complement its rooftop solar installation. Solar now supplies around 25 per cent of the arena’s electricity, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The LA Convention Centre (hosting fencing, boxing, basketball prelims, table tennis and taekwondo), which was built in the 1970s, recently had over two megawatts of solar installed on its roof. That new array will supply 17 per cent of the venue’s annual energy use through a carbon-free source.
Another favourite example is the StubHub Centre, which was built in 2002 and has recently had installed 20 Tesla Powerpacks so they can store energy when the electricity is cheaper and then use it during peak times.
Presumably, given that these venues are in use now – this means that their post-Games legacy is already secureThere is no question what the legacy of these venues will be: they will continue to serve as iconic, internationally renowned hosts for world-class sports, culture, arts and entertainment events. The venue owners and operators are making investments in these sustainability upgrades because it makes good business sense for them to do so and also because the regulatory environment in California and the Mayor’s vision in LA are strongly encouraging them to move in the direction of renewable energy, water conservation, low-carbon measures and low waste.
What are your plans in terms of temporary venues?
There will be a limited number. A great example of an optimal use of a temporary venue is beach volleyball. The LA bid team were all in Rio in 2016 and we saw that beautiful stadium created on Copacabana beach for beach volleyball.
We will do a similar thing on Santa Monica beach, creating a temporary venue right there in the birthplace and spiritual home of beach volleyball. When the Games are over we will take it apart and the materials will be used elsewhere.
Our idea when building temporary venues is to use materials which have already been used and use them again afterwards locally. Radical reuse in temporary venues as well – to make sure they have a very low carbon impact.
Are you hoping the ‘radical reuse’ concept will inspire other potential host cities in the future?
This evolution in how the planning and execution of the Games is approached is really being driven by the IOC’s New Norm. The IOC is leading the way and showing how principals of flexibility and partnership and efficiency and sustainability can guide the planning and execution of the Games.
We are excited that LA 2028 is extremely well-positioned to demonstrate the New Norm in action, because, from day 1 of our bid, sustainability and fiscal responsibility have been our guiding principles. We know not every city has as many existing venues as LA, but our greatest aspiration would be to inspire other cities to share our philosophy and to build a Games that fits their city and not to change their city to fit the Games.