Budokan History

A Brief History of the Budokan of Los Angeles Project

The Budokan of Los Angeles, Downtown's new sports and activities center, has been a dream of the Little Tokyo Community for more than four decades.  Once the thriving heart of Japanese American culture in Los Angeles, Little Tokyo now faces the challenge of appealing to future generations while maintaining its historic cultural identity.  To many in the community, the Budokan of Los Angeles has been the answer to this challenge.  For more than forty years now, community leaders have fought for the Budokan.  Below is a brief history of the Budokan of Los Angeles.

1970's The idea for a gym in Little Tokyo is born, originally included in plans for the Japanese American Cultural Community Center.  However, plans for the single court gym are changed to include JACCC Plaza, which is designed by Isamu Noguchi.

1994 A series of planning sessions are held in Little Tokyo. Community groups agree that a gymnasium could serve to maintain Little Tokyo’s cultural identity as well as stimulate the area’s economy.  A group of students express that a gym would also help to bring younger people to Little Tokyo.

1995 Over the next 5 years, Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC), the new developer of the project, explores over 25 sites in every corner of Little Tokyo.


2001 Councilwoman Jan Perry initiates a series of public meetings and hearings.  Hundreds of people express their support for the Rec Center project.


2003 Potential site at the privately owned St. Vibiana Cathedral site becomes the focus of the Rec Center campaign.

2004 The City of Los Angeles announces plans for a new LAPD Headquarters, which includes police parking at St. Vibiana.  LTSC and the city enter negotiations to build the Rec Center atop a parking structure.

2008 A Memorandum of Understanding between the City and Little Tokyo Service Center is approved on September 23, authorizing the development of the St. Vibiana site.

2009 The Little Tokyo Recreation Center project is renamed "The Budokan of Los Angeles", or BoLA.

2011 On May 17th, 2011 the City Council approves a groundlease with LTSC for 25 years, with the option to renew. LTSC now prepares to launch a major capital campaign to raise $22 million.



2012 In March, the Budokan project was awarded a $5 million grant from the California State Parks Department to give the campaign a huge boost in capital.




What is a Budokan?

Budokan roughly translates as "martial arts hall" in Japanese. The name is derived from the Nippon Budokan, a large arena in Central Tokyo, Japan. The arena was originally constructed for judo competition during the 1964 Summer Olympics, but today serves as a multi-purpose facility that caters to sports, entertainment and other activities. Currently in the United States, there are numerous budokans which serve as multi-purpose centers for martial arts, team sports such as basketball and volleyball, community activities and other special events.

Budokan of Los Angeles, a Project of Little Tokyo Service Center
231 E Third St, Suite G106
(213) 473-3030