SoFi Stadium set to bring Hollywood glamor to the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl will be something of a culmination of the NFL’s return to the Los Angeles area, a game featuring the home team bringing Hollywood glamor to a superstar stadium in Inglewood, where the Lakers, Kings and Thoroughbreds once thrilled the crowds.

“Football wasn’t in Los Angeles for a generation,” Rams fan Harrison Bernsen of Los Angeles said as he stood inside SoFi Stadium just before his team beat the San 49ers. Francisco for the right to face the Cincinnati Bengals on February 13. how we bring it back, we use the big games. We are hosting the NFC Championship Game. We are hosting the Super Bowl. It’s our time. It’s LA time.

Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s sprawling $5 billion football palace, which resembles an ocean wave, was built to reflect the seaside region that surrounds it and to host the biggest games.

“When we drew our first line on paper in 2014, it was for the idea that it would one day host the Super Bowl,” said Lance Evans, athletic director at HKS Architects and the stadium’s lead designer, as he was sitting at the edge of the field. “I can’t wait to see how the NFL, the world stage, the world stage and the fans who are lucky enough to come and see this building, experience it and the spectacle that surrounds it.”

SoFi, which opened amid the pandemic in 2020 and had just one season of full fan capacity, is impossibly large – the NFL’s largest stadium in sheer size at 3.1 million square feet. – while being able to accommodate more than 70,000 people, with the capacity to accommodate up to 100,000.

Considered the first indoor-outdoor stadium, its translucent canopy diffuses sunlight and keeps fans and the pitch cool. Its open sides let in winds from the Pacific Ocean a few miles away.

“When you’re here you can smell the air, see the air brushing my face,” 49ers fan Rico Iko said as he stood on a high terrace at the stadium. “It’s very Californian, very Los Angeles.”

Its proximity to Los Angeles International Airport has forced SoFi to keep a low profile, so the land is 100 feet underground, creating what the designers call a “canyon,” which combines with the canopy to make of what Evans believes to be one of the loudest in the league.

The stadium’s two-sided oval video panel is the largest ever built, suspended improbably above the pitch with gleaming 80 million pixels streaming 4K replays, stats and advertisements.

“Every seat in the house, you feel like you’re right in the middle of the action with this video card,” Bernsen said.

For the high rollers, including the many celebrities who will be competing in the Super Bowl, there are 260 luxury suites, beach club-style “Bungalows” in the end areas, and more than 13,000 chic upscale seats, all connected to larger clubhouse spaces where well-heeled fans can hang out.

Spaces with a similar clubhouse and cantina vibe have been designed throughout the building, to give more average fans a sense of leisure and luxury.

After his first visit, a famous fan, LeBron James of the Lakers, called it “the best stadium in the world”.

This will be the eighth Super Bowl in the Los Angeles area, which hosted the first at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Others have been played in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl, including the Rams’ loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1980.

The last came in 1993. The following year, the Rams and Raiders would both leave, and LA would become an NFL ghost town.

Feints and false starts would mark the return of professional football. Few people thought it would take so long.

An attempted move by the Seattle Seahawks in 1996 was thwarted by the league, which approved an expansion team for LA in 1999 that ended up becoming the Houston Texans instead.

In the decade since, Southern California has been used primarily as a bargaining chip for NFL owners trying to get their cities to fund new stadiums.

Some serious projects ended up seeing the light of day.

In 2008, developer Ed Roski proposed and commissioned designs for an $800 million stadium complex which he dubbed “Grand Crossing”, for its location in the City of Industry with easy access to the freeway to much of the area.

In 2011, AEG, the company that built what was then known as Staples Center, proposed a $1.7 billion stadium, Farmers Field, near downtown Los Angeles, next to the ‘arena.

But neither company has ever had a team attached, and the league has never embraced them.

Enter Kroenke, who had a major advantage his competitors lacked: an NFL team in his deep pockets and the ears of his co-owners.

He bought 60 acres of land in Inglewood, then partnered with Stockbridge Capital, which owned an adjacent 237-acre lot where the Hollywood Park racetrack stood empty. He quietly started working on the site in 2015.

A final competitor was about to emerge. The Chargers and Raiders have jointly proposed a stadium, a $1.8 billion project on a former landfill and a golf course in Carson, LA County’s South Bay.

In 2016, NFL owners sided with Kroenke, approving his project and a move from the Rams, with the Chargers given the option to leave San Diego and join them, which they took.

The official inauguration took place in 2017 on the City of Champions Revitalization Project, which used a nickname for Inglewood that had not applied there for many years.

To many, Inglewood was then best known as the place Dr. Dre, who will perform during Super Bowl halftime, said he was “still up to no good” in 1999’s “California Love.”

The city of about 100,000 just south of Los Angeles is the site of the Forum, home to the NBA’s Lakers in their heyday in the 1980s, and the NHL’s Kings before both moved to Staples Center. Hollywood Park has previously hosted the Breeders Cups and seen some of Seabiscuit’s most notable wins.

A lake that welcomes game-goers to the SoFi property is a tribute to the one that horse players once gathered in the track’s infield.

Its walking paths and picnic tables are open to the public free of charge year-round, one of the benefits, as well as the promise of an economic boom and jobs, that the stadium has attempted to provide Inglewood. , a largely low-income community where few residents can afford even an NFL regular season ticket.

Some saw rents skyrocket beyond their means and had to leave when the stadium went up. Homeless encampments near the stadium were recently evacuated ahead of the Super Bowl.

And the construction boom shows no signs of slowing down. NBA Clippers erect arena in Inglewood. NFL offices, entertainment venues, retail stores and restaurants are springing up around SoFi, which will soon host Wrestlemania and the College Football National Championship game, and is all certain to host games from the World Cup and Olympic events in the years to come.