SF among 4 finalists for potential 2024 Summer Olympics bid

A source close to the USOC has indicated that San Francisco has made the cut to be one of the four finalists to represent the United States in the country’s 2024 Summer Olympics bid. Joining SF are Los Angeles, Boston, and Washington, DC. The decision came as part of a multi-step culling process, with the most recent cut eliminating San Diego and Dallas.

The Bay Area put together a 2012 bid well over a decade ago. The landscape has changed a bit thanks to some venues either closing or being renovated, and new ones opening. I wrote about what a new bid would look like after the London Games. While there are plenty of venues for most of the events (although with a large geographical spread), the missing piece is a stadium that can properly hold track & field events and the opening and closing ceremonies. The 2012 bid was largely dependent on a rebuilt Stanford Stadium. After the bid failed, Stanford decided to downsize the stadium and make it a compact football/soccer venue. An alternative had a new 49ers stadium at Candlestick built to convert from football to track, but the 49ers turned their attention south and the method to do such a conversion was unproven. With several questions unresolved about the bid, San Francisco lost out to New York City, which came a distant fourth in voting.

London showed the way by getting temporary stadium built. Repurposing it has turned into a bureaucratic mess, as the redone stadium won’t open as the new home for West Ham United until 2015. Unless organizers figure out where to put the main stadium and the athletes’ village, they won’t really have a bid.

I’ve thought for some time that Oakland could be in a good position to support both if they could figure out the logistics of it. If SF was willing, it could allow Oakland to have both at the Coliseum. The problems are largely timing related. If Oakland also wanted to make a deal with the Raiders, would they build a stadium that could be converted to track temporarily, or would they go the London route and wait to build an Olympic stadium and then convert it permanently to football afterwards? The difference between the two is several years, and Mark Davis may not be patient enough to wait for the second option. On the other hand, the first option could prove extremely difficult to pull off. A football stadium may be 260-270 feet wide to accommodate the field and benches, whereas a track setup is 340-350 feet wide. That translates to 13 rows on each side to be added or removed.

Los Angeles is the only one of these cities that has previously hosted the Summer Games, last in 1984. Since then, the centerpiece of the bid, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, had its field lowered and the track removed. The venue has also come under control of USC, which has a 99-year lease. The venue could in theory build back the track and remove seats, but doing so would require a good deal of demolition and filling in to accommodate the wider track. It’s unclear if USC would go for such a plan. Washington and Boston would presumably have more compact bids than either West Coast city. They’re also not experienced hosting large sporting events, which puts them at a disadvantage. They also don’t have clear main stadium options, either.

All of this would be rendered moot if the USOC decides not to move forward with submitting any bid, a decision which will be made in the next six months. I’m not holding my breath.

23 thoughts on “SF among 4 finalists for potential 2024 Summer Olympics bid

  1. SMG, completely agree. And the best way to do that is continue to submit practical/low funded bids to each. They’ll either continue to dismiss it, in which case, you’re not harmed. Or they accept it allowing others to follow suit. And if we continually do it, others may follow suit. Many countries are already bowing out and not even submitting bids because of the cost as it is. Either way, it’s not worth putting forth too much of an effort.

  2. The Coliseum City project is the only suitable complex(either existing or in planning)that would be big enough and impactful enough and centrally located enough to host the opening and closing ceremonies as well as a host of other events. That sort of set up was tailor-made for something like an Olympics. Even the athletes village. Too bad the powers that be and parties involved(namely Wolff/Fisher, Raiders, Ala Co., supposed Dubai funding) can’t get their acts together and get this done.

  3. would the bay area olympic committee really want the olympic stadium and the opening ceremony to take place in “dirty and dangerous” city of oakland?

  4. No thanks. Let LA have it.

  5. The 1996 Olympic stadium was converted into Turner Field. Could the A’s make that happen in Oakland?

  6. I’m surprised nothing’s been posted about the lights going out last night. Sewage spills, power failures. All while Selig has kept his head in the sand for years and refused to address the A’s siituatiom

  7. The lights went out last night at the Coliseum?

  8. Not sure why there’s so much criticism over that. I’ve been to a game at Jacobs’ field almost 10 years ago where all the stadium lights went out. These things happen and have little to do with the Coli’s age.

  9. This just adds to the perception that the place is no longer fit for Major League Baseball. And no replacement facility is in sight. One of the best teams in baseball is stuck in a substandard building, while the Braves proceed at lightning speed to replace their less-than-20-years-old, state-of-the-art ballpark.

  10. Is Lew Wolff a great sport or what?

  11. Regarding the necessity for a large Track and Field stadium, the Rio Olympics in 2016 will place the Opening and Closing ceremonies in a 78,000 soccer venue, the Maracana Stadium.

    What this means is that Levi’s Stadium (in its expanded Super Bowl configuration) would likely be the site of the Opening/Closing Ceremonies for a Bay Area Olympics. There is no longer the expectation of a massive stadium for Track and Field events.

  12. I personally hope the Bay Area stays out of this. The Olympics are a horrible expene to host cities and long gone are the days where revenue pours in to cover costs. It’s a money loser from a business standpoint. As for the possibility of new stadium construction to be spurred by being a host city, it doesn’t come free or cheap…The IOC is well known for, frankly, ripping off the host citoes and areas blind in perks, exceptions etc….The mob might as well be running it these days.

  13. If the Bay Area bid is submitted with the main stadium being in Oakland, the IOC response will probably be somewhere between “LOLNOPE” and “are you s&$#%^$g me?”

  14. The problem with converting a football stadium for the Olympics, be it the LA Coliseum (ever since the track was removed in ’93), Levi’s, or a hypothetical Oakland stadium, is that it’s not just a matter of removing 13 rows. You’d have to raise the field enough so that it is level with the first row of seats (or else the fans on the sidelines would not be able to see the track on their side any more than the plaza bleacher fans can see dead center field at the Coliseum). So if the first 13 rows are a total of ten feet tall and begin five feet off the ground, that’s a 350 by 500 by 15 foot area that needs to be filled in, presumably with concrete, and then ripped out before it can host football again. Not cheap, easy, or quick.

  15. If I recall correctly, SF asked SJ to join them and put in a “joint bid,” and Mayor Reed wisely said “no thanks.”

    Or maybe that was the bid for the 2012 Olympics? In any event, as others have pointed out, it’s a losing proposition. Not worth it.

  16. @Steve- you are correct for 2012 as well as most recent attempt. Mayor Reed wished mayor Lee and SF good luck but said SJ is not interested in partnering

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