TSX REPORT: L.A.-area sports impact now $8.9 billion; LA28 “a car-free Games”? SoFi Stadium may be out for the 2026 FIFA World Cup

Marcel Porras, the L.A. Metro Deputy Innovation Officer, at the 2023 L.A. Sports Innovation Conference on Tuesday (TSX photo)

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1. L.A.-area sports economic impact explodes to $8.9 billion
2. “For the LA28 Olympics, it’s meant to be a car-free Games”
3. USOPP’s Koblin on how the 2028 Games will change Los Angeles
4. Way cleared for Saudi Arabia walkover for World Cup 2034 hosting
5. Sofi Stadium out of 2026 FIFA World Cup?

● A panel at Tuesday’s 2023 Los Angeles Sports Innovation Conference revealed that the economic impact of the L.A.-area professional and college teams expanded to $8.9 billion for 2022, including 83,430 direct and induced jobs. The economic impact total grew by 41.9 billion, year-over-year.

● The Deputy Chief Innovation Officer of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority told the conference attendees that the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games is “meant to be a car-free Games” and see the potential to change the way locals think about public transit.

● The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Properties chief operating officer explained the primary ways the Games is going to change Los Angeles, and how LA28 sponsors are using big data to aid the planning.

● Indonesia’s football federation said it would not bid for the 2034 FIFA World Cup, in a tie-up with Australia, clearing the way for Saudi Arabia to bid unopposed.

● An ESPN Deportes report said that SoFi Stadium may not be involved in the 2026 FIFA World Cup as the field width is too small and requires substantial modifications to the field-level seating and boxes. There are other options for FIFA in Southern California.

Panorama: IOC (2: eight new members elected; contracts for 2029-32 quad now $5.4 billion) = PanAm Sports (ex-USOPC Chair Lyon elected a Vice President) = Athletics (European Athletics agrees to prize money for Euro Champs in 2024) = Cycling (2: Pikulik wins Tour of Guangxi Women’s World Tour finale; Vader maintains lead and wins season-ending Gree-Tour of Guangxi) = Football (3: U.S. men swamp Ghana, 4-0; U.S.-Germany drew 1.15 million viewers against college football; CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinals announced) = Gymnastics (855,000 watched NBC’s Worlds highlights show!) ●

Errata: Tuesday’s post erroneously listed New Haven, Connecticut was one of the out-of-area football sites for the 1984 Olympic Games; actually, it was Harvard Stadium in Boston Massachusetts. Thanks to reader Todd Parker for the correction. ●

L.A.-area sports economic impact explodes to $8.9 billion

Showing a considerable resilience since the Covid-19 pandemic, the impact of sports on the Los Angeles region expanded in 2022 to $8.9 billion in all, up a staggering 27% in just one year.

And nothing at all to do with the 2028 Olympic Games.

This finding was announced during Tuesday’s L.A. Sports Innovation held at the YouTube Theater at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Created by the Institute for Applied Economics of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) for the Los Angeles Sports Council, the report showed a remarkable recovery from the heavy pandemic restrictions in California, and specially in Los Angeles County:

● $8.9 billion total economic impact in 2022 vs. $7.0 billion in 2021 (+27%)
● $7.4 billion pro-sports impact in 2022 vs. $6.0 billion in 2021 (+23%)
● $1.5 billion collegiate-sports impact in 2022 vs. $964 million in 2021 (+56%)

Both the professional and college sports economic impacts were far ahead of the pre-pandemic report delivered on 2018, which had $5.3 billion in pro-sports impact and $1.2 billion for college sports (total: $6.5 billion).

The opening of SoFi Stadium provided a boost to the totals and the figures do not include one-time events such as the 2022 All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium or the February 2022 NFL Super Bowl LVI.

The employment numbers also showed marked increases, in part thanks to the opening of new facilities, but also the re-opening of facilities closed during the pandemic:

● 54,440 jobs directly created in 2022 vs. 20,850 in 2021
● 28,990 jobs indirectly created in 2022 vs. 18,840 in 2021
● 83,430 total sports-related jobs in 2022 vs. 37,690 in 2021 (+210%)

There also a calculation made on the amount of state and local taxes collected, at $365.1 million, only slightly ahead of $363.6 million in 2021 and 353.9 million in 2018.

The study was quite limited, and incorporated data from the 12 regional major professional teams in baseball (2), basketball (3), football (2), hockey (2) and soccer (3). The area’s college teams survey was limited to the eight largest, including UCLA, USC, Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, UC Irvine and CSUN, Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State.

The clear driver has been the opening of new facilities, which have been filled by existing and new team fan bases. With the Intuit Dome opening in Inglewood in 2024 as the home of the Los Angeles Clippers, another expansion is anticipated.

“For the LA28 Olympics, it’s meant to be a car-free Games”

During the L.A. Sports Innovation Conference panel on the economic impact of sports in the region, Marcel Porras, Deputy Chief Innovation Officer of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) reminded the attendees again of his agency’s goals for impact at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

“I don’t think it’s widely publicized, for the LA28 Olympics, it’s meant to be a car-free Games. And so, what does that mean?

“Well, I think it means first and foremost, there will not be parking at the venues. Now, someone may be able to park at Joe’s Parking down the street, but the venues themselves, they’re going to be using all of that parking for their operations; safety perimeters for the athletes, for the sports broadcasting, etc., and so when you think about where we’re going to be for the Olympics, you can start thinking about your travel and think about how you’re going to adapt to that.

“And we’re going to step up and meet the demand, because that’s what we do here in L.A., but we’ve been working on this now and we have 4 1/2 years to go, you know, we’re under the gun.”

He was seconded by Ron Frierson, the former Director of Economic Policy for Mayor Eric Garcetti (2018-22) and now Amazon’s Director of Economic Development for the western region:

“One of the things that the Olympics is going to do for us is it’s going to force us to upgrade and expedite all of our sustainability, right? … Also, in a way, for lack of a better term, force Metro to really connect our cities and places, so it’s going to be largely carless because of all the work that Metro is doing, connecting us to all of these major sports venues and convening hubs, and that in turn, after the Olympics leaves, we’ll be left with a better infrastructure so we can take cars off the road as we see them now. …

“It’s going to require a shift in our culture of L.A. being a car culture.”

Porras pointed to a significant, 17% increase in ridership for the lines related to attendance at the six nights of the Taylor Swift “The Eras Tour” concerts at SoFi Stadium from 3-9 August this year as a sign that massive increases in the use of public transit are possible. He also emphasized the coordination with the City of Inglewood for the creation of park-and-ride lots and bus-only lanes to make public transit more attractive to users:

“With the 2028 Olympics, we’re really using that as an opportunity to unlock a much more enhanced customer experience, so that it just becomes an easy choice for you to take Metro rather than driving your car and sitting in traffic and paying a ton of money for parking.”

USOPP’s Koblin on how the 2028 Games will change Los Angeles

The final panel of the L.A. Sports Innovation Conference was on the “Global Impact of Sports: Unveiling Opportunities for Growth and Innovation in the Southern California Market.” Panelist Danny Koblin, the Chief Operating Officer of U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Properties, backed up Metro’s Porras, saying “We have some solutions for that during Games time.”

The USOPP is the joint venture formed to sell sponsorships for the LA28 Games and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, and Koblin was asked about how the 2028 Games will change Los Angeles:

“As an organizing committee that has had an extra amount of time to plan our Games, thinking about how to help this city and how the Games can benefit this city has been a real focal point of our plans. And there’s really three areas that we’re focused on:

“The first one I’ll say is around youth sports. At the core, the Games are around sports, providing access to sport and showing kids and people who participate in sport all the benefits that sport can provide.

“And so one of the first things we did was create a relationship with the L.A. City Rec and Parks. We’re actually spending $160 million – we started this a couple years ago – and spending this through the end of our plan in 2028. We’re actually making sports more accessible for kids, and we’re helping subsidize the fees to participate in sports, we’re helping train coaches, we’re helping make fields safer, so the City has already enrolled over 500,000 kids in these programs.

“We’ve included adaptive sports for the first time ever in the City’s programming, so we’re really proud of that program, and how we’re ultimately going to extend that throughout the run of our Games, and with success, even beyond our Games.

“The second area is really around a healthy environment, and so when you think about the plan … we have so many amazing venues here that are already doing incredible things to be sustainable operations. We want to make sure that we continue to advance in the areas of sustainable energy, how we can do things responsibly for the partnership with our venues, so when we do host the world on this amazing, great stage, we’re doing so in a really responsible manner that creates an incredible healthy environment.

“When you think about all those areas that we’re really looking to advance in our Games, I think we have just this tremendous ability to really showcase to the world how these Games can really bring benefits to the community, and not ultimately be a burden.

“And the last area is really what we call economic empowerment. And when you think about the buying power, we have a $7 billion budget. That’s a balanced budget, we’ve got to make the revenues actually pay for the execution of these Games. But there’s going to be a tremendous amount of economic activity coming into this community, and so one of the things we want to make sure we do is utilize our buying power to help advance local businesses, and specifically minority and diverse businesses, businesses from underserved communities, the ability of these businesses to go out and compete to win business through our Games is really an area of focus for us.

“So those three things are really the areas in which we’re focused.”

He was also asked about the impact of the Paralympic Games:

“The Paralympics will be the first time here in L.A. And the Paralympics as a movement, it’s so incredible. I was at the Games in Rio in 2016 to see these athletes competing at this unbelievable high level, overcoming all these physical disabilities. It really is such an amazing experience to be able to see, and so for us, hosting the Games here in L.A. is all about Olympics and Paralympics.

“The Paralympics will happen about a couple of weeks after the Games are over. We’re going to be handling these Games in the same manner as we are the Olympic Games, and I’m just so excited for us to be able to showcase these incredible athletes on the field of play, because it really is what Olympic and Paralympic Games are all about. It’s really bringing this world together, creating a better world through sport, helping advance people with disabilities into opportunities that everybody should have in this life.

“So we’re really excited to showcase that to the world.”

Koblin also noted that several of the LA28 Athlete Fellows – Olympians and Paralympians who are now working in the organizing committee – were in attendance, enhancing their own experiences in a new way:

“I think about being here and having these Games come to L.A., to really think about all of the human legacy moments and the impact that we’re going to create on all these people that are going to experience, for the first time or second time or 10th time, but I guarantee you it’s going to be experienced in an entirely different way, and that feeling is going to permeate throughout the entire globe.”

Koblin was asked about how the LA28 commercial partners have helped advance the organization, he stressed big data as a new element:

“Salesforce is definitely a great example and I think Salesforce, being a California company, was really interested in partnering with LA28 to really help us get smarter about our fans. And the reality is, when you think about the Games going from city to city to city, the IOC being the international organization that oversees the Games, there wasn’t a lot of sophistication in the data sharing, in the data understanding of the fanbase. And so Salesforce, through us understanding what they can do and how they do it, we created an amazing partnership that is now giving us the tools to really get smarter about fans.”

On how brands are attracted to LA28, he noted how Delta is using the LA28 Games to help launch its new Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport, a $2.3 billion joint investment with Los Angeles World Airports.

“You can just see the different interests of each of these brands and what’s important to them and really understanding how we can leverage what we bring, both as a property, as well as the city to these brands to really tell their stories more broadly.”

Way cleared for Saudi Arabia walkover for World Cup 2034 hosting

After news of discussions between Indonesia and Australia about a possible FIFA World Cup 2034 bid surfaced last week, they were squashed by Wednesday announcement by Erick Thohir, the head of the Indonesian Football Federation (PSSI).

The headline read, “Supporting Saudi Arabia, Indonesia Aims to Host After the 2034 World Cup” with two short paragraphs following:

“Indonesia supports Saudi Arabia as a candidate to host the 2034 World Cup.

“’Indonesia supports Saudi Arabia as host of the 2034 World Cup. On the other hand, Indonesia continues to prepare itself for bidding for the next World Cup for the Asian zone after 2034 and other FIFA competitions,’ said Erick in a written statement.”

When FIFA announced that the 2030 World Cup would go to a tri-nation bid from Portugal, Spain and Morocco, this knocked Europe and Africa out of the continental rotation which FIFA favors for the World Cup. By placing three opening games in South America – Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay – recognizing the centennial of the World Cup, first played in Uruguay in 1930, a South American bid for 2034 was eliminated.

FIFA specified that only bids from Asia or Oceania would be received and the Saudi Football Federation immediately jumped in. With the derailing of an Australian bid, there is little doubt now that Saudi Arabia will be the only bidder to send an expression of interest by the 31 October 2023 deadline.

The Associated Press reported that a Wednesday videoconference of the Asian Football Confederation included an exhortation by FIFA President Gianni Infantino (SUI) for the regional association to “be united for the 2034 World Cup.”

Saudi Football Federation head Yasser al Misehal told the group:

“We have been overwhelmed by a huge number of supporting letters, announcements from all over the world. This puts a big responsibility on us to really deliver a successful bid.”

The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar was marked by an enormous building program and dogged by questions over human rights issues and construction worker concerns. Saudi Arabia has also been pressured over decades with regard to human rights issues.

Sofi Stadium out of 2026 FIFA World Cup?

A widely-circulated report by ESPN Deportes’ John Sutcliffe on Monday said that the state-of-the-art SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, may be removed as a venue for the 2026 FIFA World Cup due to its tight field size for American Football.

Sutcliffe explained:

● The SoFi Stadium field design is too tight for a full-sized 105-by-68 m (114.8 x 74.4 yards) football pitch, with a regulation American Football field measuring 120 yards long but only 53 yards wide, plus sideline spaces for the teams.

● Removing seats and field boxes to make room for a full-sized field would cost quite a bit, and owner Stan Kroenke was not enthusiastic about absorbing the expense. This might end up having SoFi not involved in the 2026 World Cup at all.

The stadium has hosted plenty of football matches, including the CONCACAF Gold Cup final in July between Mexico and Panama and multiple friendlies.

● The World Cup final now appears to be a choice between AT&T Stadium in Dallas and MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. Sutcliffe said he believes that Dallas is currently the choice.

● The opening game will likely be in Mexico City at the historic Estadio Azteca.

If the report turns out to be true and SoFi Stadium drops out, FIFA could decide to find a different venue in the Southern California area – the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and especially the Rose Bowl in Pasadena could be excellent choices – or go elsewhere. There were 11 U.S. stadia selected for the event, in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Miami, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, Santa Clara in northern California and Seattle.


● International Olympic Committee ● As the IOC Session in India closed, eight new members were elected, to bring the total membership to 107. These included five individual members: Yael Arad (ISR), Balazs Furjes (HUN), Cecilia Villacorta (PER) and two special cases, members not nominated by a National Olympic Committee, Oscar-winning actress Michelle Yeoh (MAS) and Michael Mronz from Germany, an entrepreneur in developing sporting events.

Two were elected as Presidents of International Federations, Petra Sorling (SWE) from the International Table Tennis Federation, and Jae-youl Kim (KOR), the head of the International Skating Union. Tunisian National Olympic Committee President Mehrez Boussayene was elected as an NOC chief.

During the first day of the Session, IOC Director General Christophe de Kepper (BEL) told the Session that the near-term financial situation of the IOC is excellent, noting “To date, we have already secured contracts worth $5.4 billion for the Olympiad 2029 to 2032.”

However, in the day two report from the IOC Audit Committee, member Pierre-Olivier Beckers (BEL) expressed concern over the longer-term future, telling the members, “One of five NOCs is fully dependent on the help of the IOC.”

● PanAm Sports ● At the PanAm Sports General Assembly in Santiago (CHI) in advance of the Pan American Games that begin on Friday, former U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee chair and chief executive Susanne Lyons was elected as the 3rd Vice President. According to the announcement, “Lyons was elected in a close and private vote against Juan Santiago Estrada from Nicaragua.”

Lyons moved up from Executive Committee member to a Vice President slot, maintaining the U.S. presence on the board.

● Athletics ● In a somewhat surprising development, European Athletics approved the payment of prize money for the European Championships for the first time, during its Council meeting in Vilnius (LTU) on Wednesday.

The Euros began in 1934 and were very successfully held in Munich (GER) in 2022; the next edition will be in Rome (ITA) next year.

● Cycling ● The final UCI Women’s World Cup race of 2023, the Tour of Guangxi in China, finished with Poland’s Daria Pikulik winning the final mass sprint in 3:39:45 for the mostly flat 144.6 km course.

She beat Italy’s Chiara Consonni – the Tour of Chongming Island winner – and Ireland’s Mia Griffin to the line for her second career Women’s World Cup victory and first in a one-day race.

Dutch rider Milan Vader held on to win the final UCI men’s World Tour race of the season, the Gree-Tour of Guangxi on Tuesday, finishing just six seconds up on France’s Remy Rochas and 11 seconds ahead of Ethan Hayter (GBR).

Vader took the lead after winning the fourth stage, then finished second to Colombia’s Juan Sebastian Molano in stage five in another mass sprint finish – maintaining his lead – and finished 31st in the final, sixth stage, but with the same time as the winner, Olav Kooij (NED), in the last mass sprint of the season.

● Football ● The U.S. Men’s National Team had no trouble with Ghana, winning Tuesday’s friendly in a 4-0 rout with all of the goals in the first half at Nashville, Tennessee.

Forward Gio Reyna scored in the 10th minute off a deflected shot on the box, forward Christian Pulisic converted a penalty kick in the 19th after a foul on forward Tim Weah for a 2-0 lead.

Striker Folarin Balogun scored in the 22nd, off a pass from Weah to the penalty spot for a 3-0 advantage and Reyna got the final score in the 39th off an assist by Pulisic following an indirect free kick.

Ghana actually had 56% of possession in the game, but the U.S. had the edge on shots, 13-7. Ghana managed only two shots on goal against U.S. keeper Matt Turner.

The U.S. vs. German men’s friendly on Saturday, competing against a strong college football schedule, drew an average of 594,000 viewers on TNT, after 158,000 tuned in for the pre-game show. The same game got 556,000 viewers on Telemundo for a quite-respectable combined total of 1.15 million.

The Mexico-Ghana match, also played on Saturday, did much better and got 1.493 million on Telemundo and another 329,000 on TUDN.

The U.S. men’s National Team is automatically qualified for the 2026 FIFA World Cup as a host country, and so will have many fewer meaningful games to play in the build-up. But the American men have an opportunity to qualify for the CONMEBOL Copa America 2024 in the now-scheduled quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinals in November.

CONCACAF revealed the quarterfinal pairings, with the winners of the home-and-home series – on aggregate score – to qualify for the Copa America:

Nov. 16: U.S. vs. Trinidad & Tobago and Costa Rica vs. Panama
Nov. 17: Jamaica vs. Canada and Honduras vs. Mexico

Nov. 20: U.S. vs. Trinidad & Tobago and Costa Rica vs. Panama
Nov. 21: Jamaica vs. Canada and Honduras vs. Mexico

The sites will be announced later; the four losing team will play in an elimination qualifier for two more spots on the Copa America next March. 

● Gymnastics ● Even though it was a week later, the NBC highlights package show last Saturday on the FIG Artistic World Championships – starring American icon Simone Biles – drew an average of 855,000 viewers. Pretty impressive given the football games against it.

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