The new Belmont Pool complex is part of the “8 by 28” plan but is currently underfunded and the focus of a legal challenge by residents.
With the 2028 Olympics bearing down on Los Angeles, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and the city council called on the city manager’s office to prepare a roadmap of how the city will get its game face ready for the world stage.
The 8 by 28 plan, once completed, will outline the needs and timelines for the eight infrastructure projects the city hopes to complete prior to the games’ kickoff in the summer of 2028.
As part of the Los Angeles bid, which was awarded the games after the 2024 games were awarded to Paris, France, Long Beach will host a number of events including water polo, open water swimming, sailing and BMX racing.
To do that, the city hopes to make cosmetic and functional improvements to some of the areas of the city that will host these events.
Among the eight projects identified last year by Garcia are a rebuild of the city’s lifeguard towers and concessions stands, a rebuild of Belmont Veterans Pier which was damaged during a storm last year and the completion of the new Belmont Pool complex.
Improvements to the Long Beach Convention Center, the arena (handball events) and to the city’s airport and portions of the Metro Blue Line—its expected to help connect the Long Beach events to the main sports park in Los Angeles—are also part of the plan.
Assistant City Manager Tom Modica noted that while some of the projects still need more funding sources to be identified, five of them are in the city’s Tidelands area, thus will be able to tap Tidelands funds instead of hitting the city’s general fund. The airport improvements will be taken out of the airport funds and improvements to the Blue Line will include money from Metro.
“We believe this is an aggressive vision but also a doable vision,” Modica said.
While the financial details are not available now, there are some elements that will be privately funded like the hotel being built by the convention center and others like the Blue Line improvements that are receiving outside funding. Others, like the Belmont Pool, pier and concessions improvements may require some innovative thinking to secure the funds necessary to complete any level of revamps.
The pool especially has been a sore point for some community members. It’s currently being challenged in court by neighborhood groups who disagreed with the findings of the final environmental impact report, but it’s also millions of dollars short in funding. The city has set aside tens of millions for the project but still face a large funding gap, one that has been attributed in the past to the substantial difference in the price of oil from when the project’s budget was originally proposed and the present price of oil.
Council members were optimistic that funding gaps could be helped out by possibly selling naming rights to some of the new facilities. Fifth District Councilwoman Stacy Mungo pointed to the recent deal reached by the University of Southern California with United Airlines for the naming rights to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The deal is for $69 million over 16 years starting in 2019, however, that won’t include the ability to market itself during the games due to a clause that stipulates that all Olympics facilities must be “clean” and without corporate logos.
“I look forward to many sponsorship opportunities for our large facilities,” Mungo said. “I hope that we have $70 million offers right here in Long Beach.”
A protest was held outside city hall Tuesday afternoon with local groups joining the Nolympics Los Angeles group in denouncing the city’s participation in the 2028 games. Among other things, the group said the games would threaten residents who lacked legal immigration status through a stepped-up presence of federal officers in the city for the games, would exacerbate the already worsening housing affordability issue in the region and could lead to unused infrastructure that would languish after the games conclude.
“What was not talked about is what this will mean for sanctuary [city status],” said Johnny Coleman, a member of the Nolympics group who spoke to the council Tuesday night. “It is a national special security event. That means that the Department of Homeland Security, which includes ICE, CBP [United States Customs and Border Protection] and the NSA is not only encouraged, allowed to, but is encouraged to work with local law enforcement. So if anyone sitting in front of me in this room today was a proponent of sanctuary status and Long Beach requiring that, then this directly contradicts and undoes all that work you’re doing.”
The council voted 7-1 in September to pass a resolution to support and strengthen a senate bill passed by the state legislature last year that sought to limit local governments’ cooperation with federal entities to police immigration issues.
The group also claimed that the city has been less than transparent in its agreement to host events in 2028 as the council has yet to officially vote on such an issue. The Long Beach city council previously voted to approve the city manager to enter into an agreement for the 2024 bid last February but had never officially voted on hosting the 2028 games until last night.
Updates on the plan are currently scheduled to come back to the council as funding sources and options are identified by city staff. No hard dates were set for updates that are expected to happen throughout the process of the city’s push to complete these eight projects.