Exposition Park: a critical part of CNRA’s portfolio of programs - A Q&A with General Manager Andrea Ambriz

Published Date:

Photograph of Andrea Ambriz

Andrea Ambriz, thanks for joining us for this feature. You’ve been at the helm of LA’s Exposition Park since December 2022 and a lot has happened since then. The Space Shuttle Endeavour is getting ready to be hoisted into launch position, the Lucas Museum construction is advancing rapidly, the Natural History’s Commons are almost ready to be open to the public, and we adopted and began implementing the new master plan for Exposition Park, which will more than double the green space available at the park.

And there’s a lot yet to come, including the Olympics. While 2028 might feel like a lifetime away, it will be here before we know it. We wanted to get your take about what’s happening and what Expo Park is doing to get ready, both for the Olympics and your take on the future vision for Expo Park in general.

Q: Andrea, you’ve been in the job for a little over a year. How’s it going and what brings you to work every day.

A: I have the most rewarding job in the world. My responsibility is to Angelenos and the State, and a role that I take very seriously: to manage Exposition Park and ensure that it remains accessible, inclusive, and a space for people to create memories together, learning and growing, just as my parents instilled in me. Exposition Park is a jewel in the heart of Los Angeles filled with history, art and culture, and we need to polish it for what’s to come. I have the incredible honor to lead Exposition Park’s new chapter for the future.

I am proud to have a deep personal connection with Expo Park. I played in the Park as a child with my parents and grandparents, and I would have never imagined that one day I would be tasked with safeguarding and building up the same Park to ensure other children have that same experience when visiting. I certainly also could not have imagined being a part of the path toward history in hosting the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic games at Exposition Park.

Exposition Park will be the only site in the world to host active Olympiads three times, and we will be the centerpiece of that experience to the eyes of the world. The Park is fortunate to have world-class and iconic partners on site – such as the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the California Science Center (host of the Endeavor–the only space shuttle west of the Mississippi), BMO Stadium (home of champion football clubs Angel City and LAFC), the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History (with a full-size T-Rex on display), the California African American Museum, the historic Rose Garden and Olympic Swimming recreation center, the LAUSD Alexander Science Center School, and the future Lucas Museum of Narrative Art – and it's my job to ensure that we all create an unforgettable experience within the Park.

For me to now lead the transformation of this park is a privilege and what motivates me to work every day.

Photograph of Exposition Park sign

Q: Many know of the Memorial Coliseum and BMO Stadium, but they might not know that it’s part of the broader Expo Park grounds—or that its part of the California Natural Resources Agency portfolio. Please tell us a little bit more about the full scope of Expo Park and what it means for LA and the surrounding community.

A: Exposition Park is a 160-acre state property in the center of a dynamic community that represents the rich diversity of our city. We are one of Southern California’s most popular destinations, and recognized for our iconic landmarks and green spaces, as well as world-class museums, venues and centers offering sports, entertainment, science, art and culture.

The Park is a unique space with different opportunities for different ages, with one common experience – it’s the place where memories have been and are made for so many. When I share with people that I’m the General Manager of Exposition Park, they always have a story to share about attending a past football game, cheering on soccer teams, visiting one of the museums with their children or even visiting the Park in their youth.

The California Natural Resources Agency is the parent Agency of Exposition Park, and we are committed to ensuring that the facilities and programming meet the needs of the surrounding community. The State of California takes the Park’s service to the community very seriously, and one of the most important things I can do as General Manager is to uphold our and CNRA’s Outdoors for All principle and the Governor’s California for All commitment to outdoor equity and access.

The surrounding community is made up of hardworking people, and it has been traditionally under-resourced for residents. So the Park has an added opportunity of responsibility to serve the community’s needs. This is only going to become more important as the Park’s new attractions open soon, bringing in millions of additional visitors to the Park in the upcoming years.

I believe that new partners, exhibits, events and visitors allow us an unprecedented opportunity to transform Exposition Park for the future, and I’m proud to lead the Park’s current efforts to create new, public park space through the single largest investment the state has made in the history of South L.A. In the forthcoming years, we will build out Exposition Park’s accessible green space.

Photograph of construction site

Q: It’s an amazing place. And there’s a lot happening. Tell us about the top priorities you’re leading at the moment.

A: Right now I have two priorities that are enormous in scope. The first one is the implementation of an incredible project from our Master Plan. The second is the preparation for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Let me highlight the project from our Exposition Park Master Plan. This project represents the single largest investment the State has made in the community of South Los Angeles. The anchor of these investments is the creation of a new open, green space that will increase the amount of green space in the Park. That’s a huge impact for the local community which is currently one of the most park-poor areas in the State. On any given afternoon, our limited green spaces and mostly our asphalt-parking lots are filled with folks playing soccer, exercising, or just enjoying a stroll with their families. Now, we will replace surface parking lots, which are an urban heat island, with accessible green areas and community space, which was a request expressed in the public input process for the plan.

The master plan took years to develop, and it incorporates the community’s input. This amazing project will bring aesthetic, infrastructure, and sustainability changes to Exposition Park that will last for decades to come and leave a legacy for the Park and the community. That’s the most important opportunity I’m working on at Expo Park.

Q: And then there’s the Olympics, which will come to LA in 2028. What’s this mean for Expo Park? How are you preparing with your team?

A: Yes, then there’s the Olympics. We are aiming for long-term improvements and investments that will leave a legacy for the community. To that extent we have to think of different types of sustainability. From environmental and climate sustainability and footprints, but also on community sustainability – that the community has something they can call their own after the Olympics.

We are working closely with LA28, the organization tasked with coordinating the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as other partners to explore what developments are valuable and possible for Exposition Park and the Games.

I would like Exposition Park to be a leader, showcasing examples of sustainable infrastructure to the global community as they visit the Park during and after the Games. Not only can green infrastructure support our efforts to create healthy and safe space within the neighborhood, but it can also alleviate climate impacts on the community and region. However, these infrastructure developments take major investment, so we can’t do it alone. We are working to explore other public dollars as well as private funding to help us meet these goals, and I welcome any suggestions from our environmental community on how these projects can serve dual purposes and missions with other partners.

Q: The most important question: when’s the best time to visit and where can people turn with questions? What’s your favorite thing about the Expo Park grounds?

A: The beauty of Exposition Park is that it’s always open to the public. There’s always something to do, any time of the year or day. From museum exhibits to cultural shows, music festivals, and sport games, there’s always something to experience and discover at Exposition Park. We also welcome visitors by train, foot or car any day of the week! We are very easily accessible as we are the only outdoor space in Los Angeles serviced by three public transportation Metro stops (Metro E Line Expo/USC, Expo/Vermont, and Expo/Western stations).

For questions, you can visit us at https://expositionpark.ca.gov/. We also are piloting automated information codes throughout the park to help guide visitors’ experience.

Just as the events and visitors are growing, so too is Exposition Park evolving to meet the needs of visitors to be one of the most visited destinations in Los Angeles…and soon to be in California!