Los Angeles Just 'Won' the 2028 Summer Olympics. That Is SUCH Bad News.

Cities, countries, and taxpayers hosting the Olympics typically stumble away much poorer and worse off.


LA Olympic Bid Poster

So Los Angeles will be hosting the Summer Olympics for a third time, in 2028 (the city previously hosted Olympics in 1932 and 1984). The city had originally tried to win hosting rights for the 2024 Games, which went to Paris instead. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which has had trouble finding cities willing and able to host its quadrennial summer boondoggles, went ahead and gave LA the nod 11 years from now.

My advice for residents in the city I once called home and where Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website, is to start packing your bags.

Really, just GTFO. 2028 may seem like a long time away, but it will sneak up on you and the last place anyone wants to be is in a city that has pledged billions—over $5 billion, in LA's case—to stage a boondoggle that will almost certainly suck all sorts of tax dollars and private resources out of the real economy and flush them down a unisex toilet in the basement of the Edifice Complex.

As Garrett Quinn explained for Reason in 2015, it's virtually impossible for a city to break even when hosting a Summer Games. The expected revenue is around $6 billion and the gate is split between the host city and the IOC (which takes a whopping 70 percent of the TV revenues alone!).

So before the first athlete gets bounced for failing a drug test, LA is already $2 billion in the red, assuming the bidders' cost estimate is correct, which it almost certainly isn't. The Beijing Games cost $40 billion and the London version cost $20 billion. Russia ponied up $50 billion for the poorly provisioned Sochi Games and Brazil has consistently lied about how much its Rio Games cost (officials say $13 billion while outside analysts put it closer to $20 billion). Montreal hosted the Games back in 1976, arguably at the peak of Cold War interest in the Olympics, and spent 30 years paying off its debt. But at least Bruce Jenner defeated communism (in the figure of Nikolai Avilov) in the decathlon back then. Americans will doubtless be more interested in the Games when they are held in LA than they are elsewhere, but history is rapidly leaving the Olympics behind for all sorts of reasons, including all the awful mascots.

Despite lip service to using existing venues and getting corporate donors, don't expect the city fathers of LA, which has a massive inferiority complex that often drives it to go bigger than necessary, to tighten their belts on this shining moment. Especially since they will no doubt be arguing that new kayak runs and velodromes will become cash-flow-positive venues for decades after the Olympic torch has left the area to burn a hole in the budget of some other sad-sack city. Take a tour of the venues of the 2004 Athens Games, why don't you? They were the most expensive iteration up until that point in time but the facilities literally started falling apart after the final race had been run.

It's true that by most accounts, LA's 1984 Games didn't swamp the city in debt. In fact, there's reason to believe LA made a profit hosting the event. But that was decades ago and so far no other host city has come close to achieving that feat. "The best way for a city to win on the Olympics is to decline to bid," wrote Reason's Ed Krayewski in July, when it became clear that Paris and LA had finished first and second in bids for the 2024 Games (surprise: they were the only two cities to bid!). That sounds about right, and it's true of the economics of most stadiums for football, baseball, and hockey/basketball too. The Olympics, like hosting an NFL franchise and gifting them a stadium built with tax dollars, is a luxury good, an act of conspicuous consumption that is morally offensive in an age of unfunded pension liabilities, rotten school outcomes, and crumbling roads and bridges.

Watch "Sports Stadiums Are Bad Public Investments. So Why Are Cities Still Paying for Them?"

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  1. Reuse the existing venues in L.A., including the 1984 Olympic venues. But no, they’re going to be building all new shit. Count on it. This is a state that is not happy unless it’s flushing money down the toilet. If Albert Speer were still alive, Garcetti and Brown would snap him up like the second coming of Keynes.

    1. They’ll use that 2028 deadline to rush the high speed rail through too.

      I can dream though: I dream that the combined messtrastophe of Olympic Slow Speed Rail will finally wake up California voters.


      1. Good idea; they can use a plan of hosting events in LA and San Francisco to justify putting the high speed rail on the olympic books.

        1. You mean LA and Merced.

      2. No fear, Slow Speed Rail is coming by 2028 — just not to the fucking airport. Guess athletes can run/bike/swim from LAX to the Green Line?


    2. Just tell the left that this is a Putin/Trump ploy to destroy the Climate and they will stop all the construction. #Resistance.

      1. And just think of all the human trafficking run amok.

    3. Or ban all Olympic sports that require a venue with no practical use after the 3 week party is over.

  2. “Ss Garrett Quinn explained for Reason in 2015, it’s virtually impossible for a city to break even when hosting a Summer Games.”

    This implies winter games are profitable in a way that summer games aren’t…?

    1. They build all the facilities out of ice so it’s very cost effective and cleans itself up after a few months.

      And the SS Garrett Quinn was sunk in Boston Harbor by a wicked retahded torpedo.

  3. The Edifice Complex was my nickname in group therapy.

    1. Group therapy, huh. These euphemisms!

  4. … and don’t even get me started on that body-shaming logo!

    1. That giant sperm just totally nudged that woman down the stairs.

      1. Woman? Can we have a gender verification test, please.

        1. Clinically speaking, objectively, those are clearly titties.

          1. Men can have titties too. You’d know this if you were college educated.

            1. I’m a man and I have titties. Which is why my doctor says I need to eat less and exercise more…

          2. Sir, you can implant tits on a German Shepard but that don’t make it a lady!

            1. Could make it a bitch – – – –

          3. But that is now irrelevant in California.
            We have to ask the image if it feels female today, or perhaps some other thing.
            Will the rules of the Olympic committee overrule California law when it comes to who / what competes in “men’s” events or “women’s” events? Going to be a busy few years working all that out. Not to mention the secession thing.

            1. That would be incredible. Given the recent wave of “girls” dominating female high school championships I’m excited to watch the utter shit show that will ensue when they attempt to qualify for women’s Olympic teams in 5-10 years.

              Probably ought to invest in popcorn and salt shares now, before the inevitable price boom.

            2. So just have one event, with no gender test.

        2. Hail Hail, Robonia!

  5. the IOC (which takes a whopping 70 percent of the TV revenues alone!)

    That’s pretty shocking. What a racket.

    1. Add the bribes to that and it’s a really good racket.

  6. Have the Summer Olympics in Athens every year, and rotate the Winter Olympics between one venue in Asia, the Americas, and Europe.

    There’s no reason to have them in new places every time.

    1. There’s no reason to have a Winter Olympics at all.

  7. Umm…I note in your older articles you mention the following…

    The reforms, known as Agenda 2020, are designed to make hosting the games less financially burdensome and will be applied for the first time during the bidding for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

    …yet no mention of it in this follow-up?

    Sooo…now that we’re talking about the 2024 Summer Olympics is Agenda 2020 still ongoing and, in light of that attempt and L.A.’s past history, why should we expect a loss on this Olympics?

    A) Agenda 2020 aimed at reducing the municipal costs of the Olympics starting this Olympics.

    B) L.A. Supposedly turned a profit on this in the past.

    Not saying the article was bad or anything, but reading those past articles brought up questions that would have been timely answers for this publication.

    1. Ah, correction he’s talking about the 2028 summer Olympics and the past article refers to the 2024 summer Olympics. That’s probably why, since we’ll only have an idea about Agenda 2020 once 2024 passes. Derp.

  8. LA has the infrastructure (Stadiums, coliseums) to host the Olympics. If San Diego takes on some hosting duties they don’t even have to build golf courses.

    But they’ll ignore their advantage and build new things. Traffic jams will make life even more unbearable for the locals.

    1. LA doesn’t have any golf courses?

      1. We have a shit ton of golf courses. Hell we have 2 fucking velodromes that get heavy use.

  9. And the mascot is a fucking rainbow fairy. Should be fun.

    1. It’s a scorpion riding a frog.

      I betcha the frog eats the dumb scorpion lolol

  10. LA’s 1984 Games didn’t swamp the city in debt.

    so you have one if not two (1932) examples of L.A. Olympics that bucked the trend, but this time…

    1. It’s total nonsense. We have a ton of world class facilities. We don’t have to build anything. All we need is management and ephemera.

      1. “All we need is management”

        So you’re saying we’re doomed

  11. I’m not that worried. Whatever the Olympics cost it will be a drop in the bucket compared to the other development projects in the works.

    “Ninety-seven percent of Los Angeles’ proposed venues already exist or would be temporary. The commission wrote that “with so many world-class sports facilities at its disposal, the Los Angeles venue inventory exceeds Games’ needs.””

  12. LA’s plan to save money includes enslaving American citizens who live there to build it. Illegals will be put in charge of course.

    1. Not enslavement, more like house arrest with the traffic problems and security checkpoints. I predict no one will attend.

  13. I know that we can do this and avoid being too deep in the red. Of course there’s a ton of the necessary infrastructure. Everyone is saying that we can easily pull this off, and they’re right

    I still don’t expect that we will. These international sports organizations get worse every decade. As mentioned, they take more of the profit than ever before which makes it harder for a city to profit, and they’re infested with cronyism. I expect some well-connected foreign developer gets a nice fat contract to rebuild a stadium or field that they deem subpar, and it somehow goes significantly over budget. Rinse, repeat for everything that needs to meet the IOC’s standards (standards which our existing facilities conveniently miss by just a hair)

    I just hope I’ve left the city before the traffic apocalypse that results

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