While the LA Olympics are still a full decade away, Mayor Robert Garcia announced in February his 8 by 28 plan to get Long Beach ready for the world-class event. The plan includes capital improvements and has been approved by the Long Beach City Council.
It’s going to be a very exciting time for the city as Long Beach is set to host water polo, handball, the Olympic and Paralympic triathlon, marathon swimming, BMX racing, and sailing – with the potential for even more events being added on. Most of the projects in the “8 by 28” plan are in very early planning stages, but there is some progress being made.
The eight projects that City officials are working on include a Belmont Veterans Pier rebuild, Belmont Pool, lifeguard tower improvements, new beach concession stands, Long Beach Arena improvements, a Pine and Ocean hotel, airport improvements, and Metro Blue Line improvements. Here are some details on each of these projects.
The Long Beach Arena
Because we will be hosting handball, the Long Beach Arena will need to be updated, and some of the upgrades have already started. They have $24 million to upgrade infrastructure, but exterior improvements are not part of the 8 by 28 plan. Examples of exterior upgrades would be BMX tracks and pools for water polo.
Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier
The pier, built in 1967, was damaged in a storm 2 years ago so it will need to be completely rebuilt. The pier has always been one of the best spots to watch major sailing regattas including the annual Congressional Cup. They are proposing conducting a feasibility study, and are estimating the cost for a rebuild would be $25 million to $35 million.
Long Beach Airport
Improvements to the Long Beach Airport are already moving forward. They include a new consolidated car rental area, new baggage handling and claim areas, a new ticketing lobby, and an improved traffic flow. The work is mostly being paid for with grants and is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2021.
Improving the Blue Line
Having efficient transportation during the Olympics is going to be one of the keys to the event running smoothly, and will have a huge effect on both the athletes and visitors coming to support them and the locals who will still have to get around on a daily basis. The plan is to have the Blue Line be the primary transportation system between events in Los Angeles and Long Beach. Right now it is the oldest light rail line in the system, so it will need some serious upgrades. The $1.2 billion plan is to close the south half of the line for four months in early 2019 and close the north half of the line for the following four months. The goal is to make the trip to downtown Los Angeles 5 – 10 minutes faster.
Belmont Beach and Aquatics Center
While the center hasn’t been designated to host any events yet, this is one of the biggest projects in the 8 by 28 plan. The 125,000 square-foot facility will take the place of what once was the Belmont Olympic Plaza Pool. Cost estimates are at $103 million and they have $60 million already set aside. The Coastal Commission is in charge of this project.
Fan and Competitor Experience
Rebuilding the Alamitos Beach Concession Stands is one way that Long Beach plans to upgrade the beach area for fans and competitors – specifically for the triathlon and marathon swimming events. Concession stands at Junipero Beach and the Granada Launch Ramp are in the design phase, and practically all of the lifeguard towers along the beach will be majorly upgraded or replaced.
New Downtown Hotel
You might be asking yourself, once all of these visitors come to Long Beach, where are they going to stay? New hotels are in the plan, including one at Pine and Ocean Blvd. that will be 30 stories tall with 419 rooms.
The Olympics will certainly be a very exciting time for the city, and for locals, it’s nice to see that plans are in action to make the experience enjoyable for everyone.