On Sunday, Sep. 13, the Los Angeles Rams showcased their new stadium for the first Sunday Night Football game of the year against the Dallas Cowboys.
Taking more than four years of construction to complete, SoFi stadium is worth over $5 billion, making it the most expensive stadium in NFL history, and can hold up to 70,000 fans. It is located in Inglewood, California, a place that has served as a venue for many Los Angeles sports teams, namely the Lakers and Kings until they made their famous moves to Staples Center in 1999.
Built to provide an unrivaled football and entertainment experience, SoFi will also be a central retail and recreational force in the surrounding district. One of the stadium’s most prominent features is its state-of-the-art videoboard, which is designed to keep fans engaged and improve the overall gameday experience.
In the Rams home opener, they were able to squeeze out a 20-17 win versus the Cowboys thanks to stellar performances from running back Malcolm Brown, who punched in two touchdowns, and Ramsey, who locked down Cowboys receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.
But despite the excitement surrounding the grand opening of SoFi Stadium and the Rams victory, it was a quiet and somber night. Due to coronavirus restrictions in Los Angeles, the Rams elected not to host any fans in their new facility for the 2020-2021 NFL season, so the stadium stands were mostly empty.
The Rams’ decision has disappointed fans all over Southern California and especially at Loyola High School. Junior Jack Wynperle, an avid Rams fan, was saddened to hear that he could not attend any games at SoFi Stadium for the 2020-2021 NFL season.
Wynperle said, “I feel like it’s very disappointing that something people have been looking forward to for so long has to wait a little longer. I was excited to see Jalen Ramsey (Rams star cornerback) guard the NFL’s premier wide receivers.”
Another junior, Dominic Paine, found it very strange but not terrible to watch an NFL game on tv for the first time without any fans in the background.
Paine said, “I think the weirdest part about no fans in the NFL is the lack of home field advantage. However, I think it is nice with no fans because it is easier to hear what is happening on the field and what the players are saying to each other between plays.”
To make up for the lack of energy and crowd noise, the Rams were permitted by the NFL to use artificial crowd noise to manufacture the feeling of a real game. Paine was not a big fan of this new feature added by the NFL.
“I do not like the fake crowd noise. Every time I hear it I know that it is fake and it feels like an attempt to make the coverage feel normal, but, if anything, it reminds me of all the chaos happening around the world,” he said.
While COVID-19 has detracted from the grandeur of the opening of the new SoFi stadium, and of the NFL season as a whole, Cat Davidson of the brand partnership strategy team for the Rams added that despite the football and business operations challenges the pandemic presents, there are a few positive notes to the experience.
Davidson said, “This time has challenged us to be more creative and innovative in reaching our fans effectively without in-person games and live events at our disposal, which is important in an increasingly digital world. Since even in ordinary times only 70,000 of our fans can attend gameday, it’s essential to know how to deliver live football and the stadium experience to the many fans watching at home.”
Despite the inconveniences that have arisen due to Covid-19 restrictions, Davidson believes that the long wait will make the official opening even more enjoyable for the fans.
Davidson added, “Though SoFi Stadium may not have gotten the grand opening we had hoped, there’s no doubt in my mind that this world-class stadium will be unbelievably worth the wait once we are able to welcome our fans safely.”
The Rams host the New York Giants at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 10.