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L.A. organizers propose linked, simultaneous Olympic ceremonies for Coliseum, Inglewood stadium

L.A. organizers propose linked, simultaneous Olympic ceremonies for Coliseum, Inglewood stadium
An artist's rendering of a dual ceremony at the Coliseum, upper right, and new NFL stadium for 2024. (LA 2024)

As LA 2024 officials finalize their bid to bring the Summer Olympics back to Southern California, they have faced a difficult choice regarding the location of the opening and closing ceremonies.

The Coliseum offers a sense of history and has the backing of L.A. City Council members eager to keep the Games' premiere events within city limits.

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But a $2.6-billion stadium the Rams are building in Inglewood might give the bid a more modern and expensive feel.

So LA 2024 has proposed a way to use both.

In documents to be submitted to the International Olympic Committee early next month, bid leaders describe simultaneous, linked ceremonies that begin at one venue and conclude at the other.

"Hosting Olympic ceremonies across two stadiums has never been done," Gene Sykes, the chief executive of LA 2024, said in a statement. "But L.A.'s wealth of stadiums and technology mean we can think about 'What's next?' instead of just asking what has been done before."

Los Angeles is competing against Paris and Budapest for the 2024 Games. The bidding process has moved into its final eight months with IOC voters scheduled to make a decision in September.

This week's announcement on the split ceremonies resolves a sticky problem for LA 2024 leaders.

They have sought to economize by making use of existing venues, including Pauley Pavilion and the Rose Bowl, which hosted events of the 1984 Summer Games.

Though USC has plans for a $270-million renovation of the Coliseum, the stadium dates back to the first time L.A. hosted the Games, in 1932.

LA 2024 has set its sights on attracting the largest in-stadium, citywide and TV audiences in Olympic ceremonies history, with a groundbreaking concept featuring both the Memorial Coliseum and the NFL’s new stadium at Hollywood Park.

So the current bid needed to feature the Rams' state-of-the-art stadium — which will be called LA Stadium at Hollywood Park — if only to counteract a sense of "been there, done that."

The Inglewood option concerned some L.A. city officials. Councilman Paul Krekorian recently told a public forum that, because L.A. would face the majority of financial risk for a mega-sporting event that has an estimated budget of $5.3 billion, he and his colleagues would view any attempt to hold the ceremonies elsewhere "with a jaundiced eye."

According to plans made public on Monday, the opening ceremony would begin at the Coliseum, where a runner would carry the torch down the peristyle steps and around a temporary, raised track before embarking on a cross-town relay along city streets.

The Olympic flame would ultimately arrive in Inglewood, where a separate crowd of up to 100,000 spectators would gather to watch the traditional Olympic protocol, including the athletes' parade, various oaths and the lighting of the cauldron.

The 70,000 or so fans left behind at the Coliseum would be entertained by musical performances and could watch the Inglewood proceedings remotely. LA 2024 Chairman Casey Wasserman said the production would make use of "all of our city's Hollywood storytelling and technology."

The moment the Olympic cauldron is lighted in Inglewood, the iconic torch above the Coliseum would also ignite and serve as the official flame throughout the Games.

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Seventeen days later, the process would be reversed, with the closing ceremony beginning at Rams stadium — which will also be home to the newly arrived Chargers — and ending in Exposition Park where the flame would be officially extinguished.

Olympic ceremonies are much like the Super Bowl, with many of the seats reserved for officials and corporate sponsors.

LA 2024's proposal could serve to make the ceremonies more accessible, with potentially tens of thousands more tickets available for public sale, officials said.

"L.A. is a diverse, global city that reflects the face of the world today, so we want LA 202 to be a global celebration," Council President Herb Wesson said.

Follow @LAtimesWharton on Twitter

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