Let the Games Begin (Again): The Olympics Return to L.A. – And Inglewood – for 2028
Inglewood is no stranger to the Olympic Games - the world’s foremost sports competition has widely contributed to its “City of Champions” reputation. In 2028, the Summer Olympics and Paralympics will return to a revitalized Inglewood in grand fashion.
The partnership has a long history. As early as 1932, the Olympic marathon race wound through the city’s streets, and a trio of Inglewood High School alumni won medals that year. In 1984, Inglewood’s iconic Forum arena hosted Olympic basketball games that saw U.S. men’s and women’s teams sweep to comfortable victories.
But when the games return to L.A. in 2028, Inglewood will have a much more significant role that speaks to its recent evolution as a sports and entertainment hub. Because this time the city has been chosen to host the competition’s prestigious opening ceremony with the eyes of the entire planet focused on the diverse and forward-thinking Southern California city.
While full details are yet to emerge, Inglewood’s glittering new SoFi Stadium is set to host not only the famously lavish opening, but also 2028 Olympic soccer and archery events, plus segments of the competition’s closing ceremony. Additionally, the Forum will reprise its Olympic role, this time for gymnastics.
Here, a look at Inglewood’s Olympic past and future, while considering what the city might look like when the world’s athletes converge for the 2028 opening ceremony. 1984: More Champions for Inglewood
Now a registered historic place, the storied Forum arena was only 17 years old when the Olympics came to Inglewood in 1984. The Los Angeles Lakers had already won three NBA championships there, so the basketball-synonymous venue was a natural choice for Olympic hoops. There was a hiccup when, just days before the competition, the court surface was damaged when the scoreboard hit the floor, but it was hurriedly patched up just in time for the games to begin.
Both the U.S. men’s and women’s basketball teams breezed, unbeaten, to gold medals at the Forum. The men’s team, featuring the star power of Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Wayman Tisdale, and Sam Perkins, brushed aside Spain 96-65 in the gold medal game. The tournament propelled the 21-year-old Jordan, who led the U.S. team in scoring and dazzled TV viewers worldwide, to superstar status.
The U.S. women’s team also logged a run of emphatic Forum wins, eventually trouncing South Korea 85-55 to top the podium. At a time when less than one in four Olympic athletes were women, such high-profile success helped further the notion of gender equality at the Games (a record-breaking 49% of athletes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games were female).
Alongside the Lakers’ dominant era at the Forum, these Olympic basketball wins cemented Inglewood as a “City of Champions” and put what was then a community of less than 100,000 people onto global TV screens and into the international consciousness.
For the 2028 Summer Olympics, abbreviated as “LA28,” Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium will be renamed as the Los Angeles Olympic Stadium. Home of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, it will host an expected 15,000 competitors in the Olympic opening ceremony, alongside the world’s media and a who’s who of international dignitaries. Unlike in 1984, when the Summer Paralympics were not held in the same city as the Olympics, in 2028 Inglewood will host an opening ceremony that encompasses both competitions.
For the 70,000-seat SoFi Stadium, which only opened in 2020, its Olympic and Paralympic role, alongside hosting Super Bowl LVI this year, will seal its status as a state-of-the-art venue equal to any in the world. LA28 will further attract global attention to the surrounding Hollywood Park mixed-use megadevelopment, which also features expansive office, retail, and residential districts. SoFi Stadium will witness competitive action during the 2028 Summer Olympics, too, as planned host of soccer and archery events. With its rabid global audience, soccer in particular will significantly boost worldwide awareness of Inglewood, and SoFi Stadium has also been put forward as a 2026 FIFA World Cup venue.
Meanwhile, the iconic Forum, which reopened following a $100-million refurbishment in 2014, will once again have a part to play in the Olympics, as a host to the always-popular gymnastics events. There are also plans that the Los Angeles Clippers’ new Intuit Dome, currently under construction in Inglewood, will serve as an LA28 venue.
Inglewood’s being chosen to host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2028 Summer Olympics is evidence of the organizing committee’s faith in the city providing sufficient infrastructure, resources and safety for such logistically challenging and globally scrutinized events. In Inglewood, safety has been a focus for years prior to the games. According to Mayor of Inglewood James T. Butts Jr., the city recently recorded nine consecutive years of the lowest crime rates in its history. Crime declined by a staggering 70% between 1981 and 2016. With Butts’ successful focus on both crime prevention and intervention since taking office in 2011, it appears set to only recede further before the Olympics arrive.
Further bolstering the infrastructure needed for such a large event, L.A. Metro’s K (Crenshaw) Line, which includes a Downtown Inglewood station, is slated to start service in 2022. The city is using this opportunity to enhance its transport system, including identifying transportation strategies specifically for major events such as the Olympics. Central to these will be the planned Inglewood Transit Connector, set for completion in 2026, which will conveniently connect passengers between the K Line and Inglewood’s major activity centers, including its Olympic venues.
The 1.6-mile people mover system will be electrically powered, automated, and fully elevated for minimum disruption to residents and existing infrastructure. With stations planned for Market Street/Florence Avenue, Prairie Avenue/Pincay Drive (adjacent to SoFi Stadium and the Forum), and Prairie Avenue/Hardy Street (abutting the southern portion of Hollywood Park) it will serve locals and visitors alike, while completing Inglewood as a world-class sports and entertainment destination. By reducing traffic and emissions, the Inglewood Transit Connector will also improve air quality and ease congestion.
The 2028 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games will be among the crowning achievements of Inglewood’s epic renaissance under the city’s leadership, and one in a string of prestigious events, including Super Bowl LVI and WrestleMania 2023, that parade the city on the world stage as a thriving entertainment epicenter.