You could legitimately find yourself at a bar next year talking to someone who wasn't even born the last time the Summer Olympics were on American soil. Guys -- 1996 was a hell of a long time ago now. If Los Angeles doesn't beat out Rome, Paris, and Budapest for the 2024 games, we'll officially be in a US Summer Olympics-hosting drought, like the 52-year span between LA hosting the Games of 1932 and of 1984.
Which is why we're already looking ahead to 2028. The Olympics secure a city's status as a global player, and this country has more cities that fit that criteria than anywhere in the world. So we looked at US cities that have the existing capacity to host an Olympics and also room to grow. Appropriately, our three largest states -- California, Texas, and Florida -- all have strong candidates.
Not that Rio has made the whole hosting thing look terribly attractive. Shoddily built infrastructure, polluted venues, street showdowns between police and protestors -- nah, thanks. Yet, done right, the Olympics can catalyze long-lasting investments in public infrastructure and a city's overall quality of life. Vancouver, British Columbia, for instance, made improvements for the 2010 Winter Olympics that still pay off. The once-winding-and-narrow Sea-to-Sky Highway from Vancouver to Whistler is now a faster, safer multi-lane expressway. The city expanded its commuter-friendly light rail system to include an airport line that hustles people Downtown in 25 minutes. And venues like the Richmond Olympic Oval (used for skating events during the Games), are now community centers with a gym and volleyball courts open to the public.
But it takes a special city to host the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee dictates a city must have an airport that can handle the influx of travelers, a workforce of 200,000 people, 45,000 hotel rooms, an Olympic Village to sleep 16,500 athletes and trainers, and space for 15,000 more broadcasters. It also must have some sort of public transportation to most venues, and have existing infrastructure to support the games.
Cities have to offer a lot to land an Olympics -- but they also stand to gain plenty. With that in mind, these are the American cities best suited to be an Olympic host in 2028.