The LA 2024 Olympic Bid Committee has abandoned big, ambitious plans to build the Olympic Village on a long-coveted site along the LA River near Downtown LA, and instead will (if Los Angeles wins the bid) house athletes on UCLA's campus. Womp womp. That'll be a lot cheaper than spending about $1 billion to build a whole new village on the contentious Piggyback Yard, a roughly 120-acre Union Pacific rail yard in Lincoln Heights, which various officials and river boosters have been hoping to buy and rehabilitate for years. Union Pacific doesn't particularly want to sell, the land itself is badly contaminated, and the city would have to partner with a private developer, who'd get to take over the village after the games. River boosters have long hoped to build a public space at Piggyback.
With UCLA, the city will have readymade housing, plus handy adjacent athletic facilities. What they won't have is a rail line anywhere close that could take athletes to the geographically scattered Olympic venues (the Purple Line subway won't arrive in Westwood for decades). Events will take place in several clusters: around Downtown, Hollywood, in the Valley, the South Bay, and along Santa Monica Bay—that last area is closest to UCLA, but still a commute. But as Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a press conference today, the new plans make the city's bid "fiscally responsible, sustainable and deliverable." He added, however, that it was not cost alone, but "the athletes' experience that drove this decision," according to City News Service. The press conference also included an announcement that the media housing would be at USC.
Garcetti also noted that "We are fitting the plan for the Olympic Games to our city, not the other way around." Olympics host cities are responsible for any cost overruns, and many recent host cities have been left badly in the red after building new facilities and otherwise bending over backwards to accommodate a major international event.
LA's concept and strategy for the games are due to the International Olympic Committee by February 17. It's competing against Paris, Rome, and Budapest for the games.
· Can the 2024 Olympics Save the Most Contentious Piece of Land on the LA River? [Curbed LA]
· 7 Very Big-Deal Plans in Los Angeles's New 2024 Olympics Bid [Curbed LA]