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1984 opening ceremonies
The Olympic cauldron lit at the Coliseum.
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1984 Olympics: Mapping the LA venues that shaped the games

From the Coliseum to Dodger Stadium

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The Olympic cauldron lit at the Coliseum.
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In 1978, Los Angeles agreed to host the 1984 Summer Olympics and, as described in the official report of the games, a small, secretive organizing committee formed to oversee the delivery and management of the two-week event.

The city had hosted the games once before, in 1932, when city officials used the opportunity to show off Los Angeles as a world class city that was—sort of—thriving, in spite of the Great Depression.

By the 1980s, organizing committee leaders had a different goal in mind: profit. For the first time, presentation of the games wasn’t funded by local taxpayers. Instead, the powerful committee, led by businessman Peter Ueberroth, operated as a nonprofit with full financial liability if the games went over budget.

That meant keeping costs down during the games and using plenty of existing venues for competition. The games took place across a wide swath of Southern California, with athletes competing in dozens of neighborhoods and on most of the area’s major college campuses.

For better or for worse, the strategy worked, and the 1984 Olympics were some of the most economically successful in history.

Most of the venues used during the games are still around, though some have been significantly remodeled or rebuilt. Organizers of the 2028 games, borrowing many of the tactics employed by the 1984 committee, plan to stage events in many of the same arenas.

Here’s a look at the places around Los Angeles that shaped Olympic history more than 30 years ago.

This story is the third in a series on the 2028 Olympics that looks at what Los Angeles can learn from hosting previous games and focuses on the issues the city will face over the next decade.

Casey Wasserman, who is chair of LA 2028’s organizing committee, is also a board member at Vox Media, Curbed’s parent company. Vox Media board members have no involvement in Curbed’s editorial planning or execution.

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California Incline

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O.J. Simpson famously carried the Olympic torch up the (recently rebuilt) California Incline in Santa Monica toward the culmination of a nearly three-month-long torch relay that began in New York. The Olympic cauldron was eventually ignited by decathlete Rafer Johnson.

O.J. Simpson carrying Olympic torch
O.J. Simpson carrying the Olympic torch.
Los Angeles Public Library

LA Memorial Coliseum

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Just as it had during the 1932 Olympics, the Coliseum played a key role in the 1984 games. It was the site of all track and field events, as well as the venue where opening and closing ceremonies were held. The games opened with an elaborate celebration, highlighted by a demonstration of a working jet pack and a musical performance that featured 84 grand pianos.

1984 Olympics opening ceremonies
Marchers on the Coliseum field spell out “Welcome” during the 1984 opening ceremonies.
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Los Angeles International Airport

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LAX got a major update in preparation for the 1984 games. It saw the addition of two new terminals, including the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The second level of the airport’s U-shaped roadway was also added at this time. A similarly ambitious overhaul is now in progress at the airport and should be complete in time for the 2028 games.

Terminal 1 LAX opening
Workers put the finishing touches on the new Terminal 1 building at LAX.
Los Angeles Public Library

Hollywood Bowl

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No sporting events took place at the Hollywood Bowl, but it holds a special place in Olympics history as the venue where the world was introduced to John Williams’ “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” during a special concert the night before opening ceremonies.

Hollywood Bowl
The Hollywood Bowl in 2009.
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The Forum

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Then the home arena of the Showtime Lakers, the Forum in Inglewood was easily repurposed for Olympic basketball in 1984. Just a few days before competition, however, the court was badly damaged when the scoreboard hit the floor. Workers hurriedly patched up and repainted the court in time for competition.

Forum 1980s
The Forum in the 1980s.
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Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena

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The late Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena was used for boxing competition and as a rehearsal facility for the opening and closing ceremonies. Constructed in 1959, the Exposition Park arena was demolished in 2016. It’s since been replaced by the Banc of California soccer stadium.

Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena
The Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in the 1980s.
Los Angeles Public Library

Los Angeles Convention Center

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A labyrinth of offices, work spaces, and darkrooms was constructed at the Los Angeles Convention Center to house the thousands of reporters and photographers who descended upon Los Angeles to cover the games.

Typewriters and desks
Press area at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Los Angeles Public Library

Pauley Pavilion

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Mary Lou Retton won gold at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, where gymnastics competition was held. The school was an important hub during the games; it was also the site of the Olympic Village, with most athletes staying in student dorms during their stays in Los Angeles.

Gymnastics 1984 Olympics
Gymnastics at Pauley Pavilion.
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Sunset Gower Studios

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ABC used Hollywood’s Sunset Gower Studios as a base of operations for coverage of the Olympics. The company had paid $225 million for the right to broadcast the games in the United States and was able to reach an enormous audience. Across the globe, more than 2 billion people—nearly half the world’s population at the time—tuned into the opening ceremonies alone.

Camera ABC Olympic coverage
An ABC camera operator during the 1984 games.
Los Angeles Public Library

Dodger Stadium

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The International Olympic Committee decided to give baseball a shot as an Olympic sport in 1984. Six teams competed in a demonstration event (no medals were awarded) at Dodger Stadium.

Dodger Stadium 1980s
A night game at Dodger Stadium in the 1980s.
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Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles

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VIP guests, including IOC leadership, stayed at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Downtown LA. The hotel overlooks Pershing Square, and the park was given a hasty $1 million makeover in preparation for the games.

Millennium Biltmore
Interior of Millennium Biltmore Hotel
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Rose Bowl Stadium

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The venerable Rose Bowl hosted football (soccer) matches during the 1984 games. Preparing the stadium for the Olympics was significantly easier than it had been in 1932, when a temporary cycling track had to be constructed on the field.

Rose Bowl exterior
The Rose Bowl as it looks at present.
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Lake Casitas

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Canoeing events were held all the way out in Ventura County on Lake Casitas, a manmade reservoir. Rowers and coaches stayed at their own Olympic village at University of California Santa Barbara during the games—roughly 100 miles from the other athletes at UCLA.

Lake Casitas
Lake Casitas as it looks today.
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California State University Dominguez Hills

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The committee constructed a state-of-the-art cycling velodrome on the campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills. It opened in 1982 and was demolished in 2003 to make way for the StubHub Center, where Mayor Eric Garcetti announced last year that Los Angeles had agreed to host the games in 2028.

1984 Olympics Velodrome
Velodrome at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
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Santa Anita Race Track

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Most equestrian events were held at Arcadia’s famed Santa Anita Race Track—though not on the track itself. Instead, temporary bleachers were erected on the dirt track and a competition ground was installed alongside the existing grandstand.

Santa Anita racetrack 1984 Olympics
1984 equestrian event.
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Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center

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Both fencing and volleyball were held at the Long Beach Convention Center in 1984. The fencing final took place at the neighboring Terrace Theater, home of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra.

Volleyball 1984 Olympics
Volleyball at the Long Beach Convention Center.
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Weingart Stadium

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East Los Angeles College’s Weingart Stadium was thusly named after the Weingart Foundation paid to refurbish it specifically for use as a field hockey venue during the Olympics.

Field hockey 1984 Olympics
The 1984 British Field Hockey team at Weingart Stadium.
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Titan Gymnasium

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Most of the handball matches during the 1984 games took place on the Cal State Fullerton campus, but the men’s finals were held at the Forum.

1984 Olympic handball
Handball competition during the 1984 games.
Los Angeles Public Library

Eagle’s Nest Arena

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Cal State Los Angeles hosted the Judo event in 1984. The school’s gym was equipped with an enormous mural by artist Guillermo Wagner Granizo, one of dozens of Olympics-themed murals that popped up on the sides of buildings and freeway walls in anticipation of the games.

Coto de Caza

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A testament to the organizing committee’s willingness to hold events in unorthodox locations, four of five pentathlon events were staged in the gated community of Coto de Caza in Orange County. Temporary facilities were developed for competition and enclosed behind 15,000 feet of chain-link fencing. Spectators were bused in on shuttles.

Coto de Caza
Entrance to Coto de Caza.
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El Dorado Archery Range

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The archery range at El Dorado Park in Long Beach is still there. Gone are the temporary bleachers with capacity for up to 4,500 spectators.

1984 Olympic archery
Archery competition during the 1984 games.
Los Angeles Public Library

Prado Regional Park

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A shooting range was constructed for the games at Chino’s Prado Regional Park. It took the organizing committee a long time to lock down a location for this event. Incredibly, one location the committee briefly considered was Caesar’s Palace on the Las Vegas Strip.

Prado Park
Entrance to Prado Park.
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Uytengsu Aquatics Center

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Uytengsu Aquatics Center—where athletes competed in swimming, diving, and synchronized swimming during the games—was known as McDonald’s Olympic Swim Stadium when it opened in 1983. Built on the campus of the University of Southern California, it was constructed specifically for the games but continues to be used by the school.

1984 olympic swimming medalists
Winners of the women’s 100-meter freestyle competition.
AP

Raleigh Runnels Memorial Pool

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Water polo players and spectators headed to Malibu during the games, where competition took place on the campus of Pepperdine University.

Los Angeles Tennis Center

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Tennis wasn’t yet an Olympic sport in 1984, but the IOC agreed to test it out during the summer games that year. A small, medal-less tournament was held at UCLA’s new tennis stadium, which had just opened that spring.

LA Tennis Center
Competition at the Los Angeles Tennis Center in 2012.
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Gersten Pavilion

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The gymnasium at Loyola Marymount University was covered over with 920 square feet of carpet in preparation for its role as a weightlifting venue.

1984 weightlifting
Weightlifting at Gersten Pavilion.
Los Angeles Public Library

Anaheim Convention Center

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At the Anaheim Convention Center, wrestlers competed in three different rings simultaneously. The 1967-built arena, within the convention center, was decked out with banners and color-coded mats in preparation.

1984 wrestling
Wrestling during the 1984 games.
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Long Beach Shoreline Marina

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Yachting events took place at the Shoreline Marina adjacent to downtown Long Beach. The marina and nearby beach were temporarily dubbed “Olympic Harbor.”

Sailing 1984 Olympics
Olympic yachting at the Long Beach marina.
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Fairbanks Ranch Country Club

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The equestrian speed and endurance events were held 110 miles from Downtown LA at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club north of San Diego. For three days, horses trotted, galloped, and jumped all over the newly opened golf course.

1984 Olympics equestrian
Equestrian event at Fairbanks Ranch Country Club.
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Corsair Stadium

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The last event held during the games was the men’s marathon, which kicked off at Santa Monica College. Runners wound their way through West LA and Marina del Rey before turning east and passing through Culver City and South LA en route to the Coliseum—in time for closing ceremonies.

1984 Olympics marathon
Runners pass under misters during the 1984 women’s marathon.
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California Incline

O.J. Simpson carrying Olympic torch
O.J. Simpson carrying the Olympic torch.
Los Angeles Public Library

O.J. Simpson famously carried the Olympic torch up the (recently rebuilt) California Incline in Santa Monica toward the culmination of a nearly three-month-long torch relay that began in New York. The Olympic cauldron was eventually ignited by decathlete Rafer Johnson.

O.J. Simpson carrying Olympic torch
O.J. Simpson carrying the Olympic torch.
Los Angeles Public Library

LA Memorial Coliseum

1984 Olympics opening ceremonies
Marchers on the Coliseum field spell out “Welcome” during the 1984 opening ceremonies.
Getty Images

Just as it had during the 1932 Olympics, the Coliseum played a key role in the 1984 games. It was the site of all track and field events, as well as the venue where opening and closing ceremonies were held. The games opened with an elaborate celebration, highlighted by a demonstration of a working jet pack and a musical performance that featured 84 grand pianos.

1984 Olympics opening ceremonies
Marchers on the Coliseum field spell out “Welcome” during the 1984 opening ceremonies.
Getty Images

Los Angeles International Airport

Terminal 1 LAX opening
Workers put the finishing touches on the new Terminal 1 building at LAX.
Los Angeles Public Library

LAX got a major update in preparation for the 1984 games. It saw the addition of two new terminals, including the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The second level of the airport’s U-shaped roadway was also added at this time. A similarly ambitious overhaul is now in progress at the airport and should be complete in time for the 2028 games.

Terminal 1 LAX opening
Workers put the finishing touches on the new Terminal 1 building at LAX.
Los Angeles Public Library

Hollywood Bowl

Hollywood Bowl
The Hollywood Bowl in 2009.
Shutterstock

No sporting events took place at the Hollywood Bowl, but it holds a special place in Olympics history as the venue where the world was introduced to John Williams’ “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” during a special concert the night before opening ceremonies.

Hollywood Bowl
The Hollywood Bowl in 2009.
Shutterstock

The Forum

Forum 1980s
The Forum in the 1980s.
Getty Images

Then the home arena of the Showtime Lakers, the Forum in Inglewood was easily repurposed for Olympic basketball in 1984. Just a few days before competition, however, the court was badly damaged when the scoreboard hit the floor. Workers hurriedly patched up and repainted the court in time for competition.

Forum 1980s
The Forum in the 1980s.
Getty Images

Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena

Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena
The Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in the 1980s.
Los Angeles Public Library

The late Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena was used for boxing competition and as a rehearsal facility for the opening and closing ceremonies. Constructed in 1959, the Exposition Park arena was demolished in 2016. It’s since been replaced by the Banc of California soccer stadium.

Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena
The Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in the 1980s.
Los Angeles Public Library

Los Angeles Convention Center

Typewriters and desks
Press area at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Los Angeles Public Library

A labyrinth of offices, work spaces, and darkrooms was constructed at the Los Angeles Convention Center to house the thousands of reporters and photographers who descended upon Los Angeles to cover the games.

Typewriters and desks
Press area at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Los Angeles Public Library

Pauley Pavilion

Gymnastics 1984 Olympics
Gymnastics at Pauley Pavilion.
Getty Images

Mary Lou Retton won gold at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, where gymnastics competition was held. The school was an important hub during the games; it was also the site of the Olympic Village, with most athletes staying in student dorms during their stays in Los Angeles.

Gymnastics 1984 Olympics
Gymnastics at Pauley Pavilion.
Getty Images

Sunset Gower Studios