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L.A. Is Ready to Strike Gold Via Hosting World-Class Sporting Events

Aerial photo of L.A. LIVE! at sunset.
Photo of Javier Cano.
Javier Cano. Credit: Marriott International.

Los Angeles is getting ready to take the gold when it comes to hosting major sports events, with NBA All-Star 2026, FIFA World Cup (2026), Super Bowl LXI (2027) and the 2028 Summer Olympics set to showcase the iconic destination on the global stage.

One hospitality industry executive who seems to always be in the middle of anything happening in L.A. is Javier Cano, area general manager, Los Angeles for Marriott International (which includes L.A. LIVE! and its hotels) and current chairman of the Los Angeles Tourism Marketing District.

Never one to be idle, Cano also holds board positions for the California Travel Association, Hotel Association of Los Angeles, California Hospital Medical Center Foundation and Central City Association, as well as being on the board of trustees for the Hospitality Training Academy and co-chair of the board of trustees for the Hospitality Labor Management Cooperation Fund.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Cano said. “All these great events, with Los Angeles being selected to host, certainly makes it a great opportunity for people to have their meetings here. That backdrop of all these events just means there’s an excitement in the air.”

[Related: Los Angeles' Premier Sports Facilities Are Game-Changers for Meetings]

While what’s certain to be an enormous influx of travelers for these marquee events may lead some meeting and event planners to be concerned about room availability, Cano assures that a destination as large and multifaceted as Los Angeles will be able to handle both segments simultaneously.

“All the things happening just means that we’re getting prepared at a much, much higher level, so groups coming to Los Angeles are going to find a market that’s ready for visitors of all kinds,” Cano assured. “L.A. is such an amazing region. We can be impacted by an event in one part of the city and yet we have all kinds of other great areas to showcase, from the ocean and the cities that are around the airport—Santa Monica, Marina del Rey. You’ve got the West Side, you’ve got Hollywood, the Valley and then, of course, downtown Los Angeles.”

Los Angeles Infrastructure Improvements

To handle the throng of visitors and set itself up for the future, L.A. has embarked on a number of infrastructure improvement projects, including the $15 billion Capital Improvement Program modernizing Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

“The LAX airport modernization has been going on for several years, and we’re getting very close to finishing that and it’s going to create an amazing entry for Los Angeles,” Cano said. “In addition, the metro system is also undergoing quite a bit of an expansion, with both above-ground rail and subways that are being built.”

Rendering of  Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.
 Rendering of Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

Like its neighbor to the north, San Francisco, and other major West Coast cities, Los Angeles is still recovering from the pandemic and what is perhaps the sea change of remote work emptying downtown commercial areas and impacting convention districts.

“We’re fortunate in Los Angeles,” he said, adding that 2024 convention bookings are soft but trending upward for 2025 and beyond. “Whereas we’ve got a great core here in downtown Los Angeles, we are blessed to have a number of other areas here in the city where you can have a complete experience and come back again for a completely different one in a different part of the Greater Los Angeles area. I think it has helped us a little bit more in terms of our return; we’re still working our way back in the central core, as many other cities across the country are, and we’re going to continue making that return because we do need that central core to be successful as well.”

[Related: Will AI Save San Francisco From the 'Doom Loop?']

Notable New L.A. Attractions

Cano noted a number of major new attractions coming to the City of Angels (and Dodgers).

“There’s a lot coming soon,” he said. “You’ve got the space shuttle Endeavour that’s being displayed over at the [Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center], and then nearby that, the Lucas Museum [of Narrative Art] is coming soon as well.”

Photo of Space Shuttle Endeavour in Los Angeles.
Endeavour, Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center. Credit: Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.

Cano also mentioned the ambitious Destination Crenshaw project, a 1.3-mile open-air art museum celebrating Black Los Angeles artists in the under-served Crenshaw neighborhood, as another major development turning heads.

Continuing on the sports theme, Cano added the Los Angeles Dodgers’ blockbuster acquisition of generational talent Shohei Otani has already impacted visitor arrivals from Japan coming to see their native son light up the MLB.

[Related: Timeless Venues Reminiscent of Yesteryear Los Angeles]

L.A. LIVE! Expansion

Cano said the major meetings and tourism draw directly under his purview, L.A. LIVE! and its Marriott-branded hotels—Cano oversees 10 Marriott-branded hotels in the Greater Los Angeles market—is getting ready to welcome a doubling of outdoor event space at L.A. LIVE!

Aerial photo of L.A. LIVE! in Los Angeles.
L.A. LIVE!. Credit: L.A. LIVE!

As far as general meetings trends, Cano said he’s seeing booking windows shrink considerably, resulting in a much more hands-on approach working with organizations that have reduced meetings staffs.

“Just through natural economic conditions, their staffs have been reduced, so we play a bigger role in in partnering with them,” he said. “So, we are stepping up more in that space and working with groups more directly, and third-party partners as well. They have also been growing as companies have downsized, so there’s more need by all of us in the industry to help companies out to ensure the success of their events.”  

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About the author
Tyler Davidson | Editor, Vice President & Chief Content Director

Tyler Davidson has covered the travel trade for nearly 30 years. In his current role with Meetings Today, Tyler leads the editorial team on its mission to provide the best meetings content in the industry.