BY: ALEX CAMPOS
The last time the X Games were not in Los Angeles, the Lakers had just finished off their first three-peat, Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopez from the band TLC had just died, and the Winter Olympics took place in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2002, the X Games lit up Philadelphia. The next year, action sports changed as bikers, skaters and motocross riders followed in Will Smith’s footsteps, heading west towards the City of Angels.
In the 10 years since X Games IX, the first in Los Angeles, the X Games brand skyrocketed. Unfortunately, this year was the last time the X Games would be held in Los Angeles for the foreseeable future. On July 17, ESPN announced that the X Games would be moving to Austin, Texas for the lone 2014 Summer X Games.
For 11 years, the X Games were an August mainstay in Southern California, with events taking place at the Staples Center, Home Depot Center (now StubHub Center), L.A Coliseum, and even the Long Beach Marine Stadium. Many of the prominent X Games athletes call Southern California their home, including skateboarders Shaun White, Nyjah Huston and Ryan Sheckler.
Sheckler, a San Clemente native, broke into the X Games the first year in Los Angeles at age 13. He won gold in Skateboard Street that year, defying all logic into what a kid with braces could accomplish.
“I’m really bummed that it’s leaving L.A.,” Sheckler told ESPN. “A lot of other skaters feel the same way because [it] is the epicenter of skateboarding.”
Why would any major event want to leave Los Angeles?
“I understand that the X Games have been in LA for a long time and they want to expand,” said CSULB senior Niko Althaus. “But to leave LA isn’t smart because we have more to offer than almost any other city.”
X Games Vice President Chris Stiepock told Southern California Public Radio that Los Angeles did not try very hard to retain the X Games due to plans to build a football stadium next to the Staples Center. ESPN, fearing that construction could interfere with the X Games, decided to look into moving. Austin beat out over 15 cities, including Detroit, Charlotte, Chicago, Long Beach and Pasadena, to become the new center of extreme sports next May.
“Austin is a great city.” said Althaus. “Other than Austin and LA, I can’t think of another city that would work.”
So Los Angeles bids farewell to the X Games, for now. Who knows what will happen if a football field gets build in Downtown. Austin will be the home of the X Games until 2017, but after that, I’m sure no one would be surprised if they return home to LA.
“They’ll be back,” said Spencer Stoll, who has attended the X Games for the past five years. “The fans out here get so pumped for it, and I just don’t think Texas can ever compete with that.”