2028 L.A. Olympics unveil venue plan: Swimming in SoFi, softball in Oklahoma City

Organizers for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics plan to hold swimming in the home of the NFL’s Rams and Chargers — and softball and canoe slalom in Oklahoma.

That’s according to an amended venue plan unveiled Friday by LA28, the 2028 Games’ organizing committee. The new plan spans 1,500 miles, flips swimming and track and field on the Olympic calendar and, per the committee, uses fewer temporary venues, saving money and aligning with International Olympic Committee guidance to use existing venues as a sustainability measure.

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Swimming, originally slated to take place in a temporary stadium to be built at USC’s baseball field, will move to SoFi Stadium, which opened in Inglewood, Calif., in 2020. It will be the largest swimming venue in Games history, per LA28, with 38,000 seats. The news comes on the heels of this week’s U.S. Olympic swim trials setting a world record for attendance, with 22,209 fans attending Wednesday’s session at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Katie Ledecky, the seven-time gold medalist and potential face of the 2028 Games, swam — and easily championed — the 1,500-meter freestyle in front of Wednesday’s record crowd.

Event organizers spent years planning how to put an Olympic-sized pool in the middle of an NFL stadium, and even Ledecky was enraptured with the fan base that followed.

“I was just kind of blown away walking out there,” Ledecky said of Lucas Oil Stadium. “I hope that it moves our sport forward.”

This month’s trials were a test run for what LA28 was planning for the sport, Casey Wasserman, chairman of the organizing committee, told The New York Times.

LA28 organizers faced one complication with the SoFi swimming plan, however: The stadium is also set to be part of the Games’ opening ceremonies. To accommodate both, swimming will move to the second week of the Olympics, switching places with track and field, which traditionally closes the Games. Both World Aquatics and World Athletics, the governing bodies for the two sports, have approved the plan.

Meanwhile, more than 1,500 miles and two time zones away, softball and canoe slalom will take place, moving to “world-class venues” in Oklahoma City with the lack of existing venues in Los Angeles that can host, LA28 said.

Oklahoma City, the home of USA Softball, hosted the NCAA’s Women’s College World Series every season since 1997, and Devon Park has undergone significant renovations in recent years. The city is already set to host the International Canoe Federation Slalom World Championships in 2026.

David Holt, the mayor of Oklahoma City, said in a statement the city had been working with LA28 organizers for the last six years.

“We are confident we will be an outstanding partner to LA28 in creating a dynamic environment for Olympians and fans,” Holt said.

The moves are subject to approval by the city of Los Angeles, which must approve all venue changes that extend outside the city.

Moving events outside an Olympic host city is not uncommon — and will happen at this summer’s Games in Paris. Portions of the basketball tournaments will be played in Lille, more than 100 miles away, and surfing in 2024 will be held across the globe in Tahiti.

LA28 said the IOC developed a new policy encouraging organizers to use existing venues, even if they are located outside of the host city, as opposed to building new sites.

“LA28’s updated venue plan will provide the ideal Hollywood stage for the world’s top athletes, and choosing from spectacular existing venues, wherever they are, rather than building new permanent or temporary stadiums, achieves more than $150 million in savings and new revenue to help maintain a balanced budget,” Wasserman said in a news release.

Gymnastics competitions will be held at Crypto.com Arena, home of the Lakers, Kings and Sparks, and basketball will be played at the Intuit Dome, the new home of the LA Clippers, currently under construction and set to open later this year.

Track and field will be held at USC’s Memorial Coliseum, making it the first stadium to host track and field in three Olympics, per LA28.

Artistic swimming and para-swimming will share a venue with water polo in Long Beach, Calif., while diving will move to the 1932 Pool in Exposition Park.

Equestrian is set to take place in Temecula, Calif., and archery, BMX racing and skateboarding will be hosted in the Sepulveda Basin in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley.

The venue plan adjustments are in part due to new arenas that have become available for use and a previously assigned venue that became unavailable, LA28 said. The committee also had to budget for the new additions of breaking (new in Paris), skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing (all new in Tokyo), and baseball/softball, flag football, lacrosse, squash and cricket — which debut or return in the 2028 Games.

This article originally appeared in The Athletic.