There are two types of Dodgers fans: The ones who love Dodger baseball and the ones who really just love having a Dodger Dog and a beer at Chavez Ravine. After visiting the new SoFi Stadium, we think that same logic could be the case for a whole lot of Rams and Chargers fans, too.
When fans will actually be able to visit the new Inglewood stadium is another question entirely, and one we should probably tackle first. Though the Rams will hit the turf at SoFi this Sunday, you almost surely won’t be able to watch a game there any time soon (the official word from the teams is “until further notice”). Even if L.A. were to barrel through California’s new four-tier reopening plan by the fall, it still—as currently written—doesn’t allow for spectators at professional sports games.
So we don’t know what it feels like to hear the roar of a touchdown at SoFi, but we do know what it feels like to step inside, and it’s simply unlike any other stadium in L.A.—or really anywhere for that matter.
For starters, it’s massive—and now the largest in the NFL. The stadium itself is about the size of the Silver Lake Reservoir (sans the adjacent Ivanhoe Reservoir), and the surrounding Hollywood Park plot is over three times the size of Disneyland Park. The comparisons to those two spots run deeper than just size, too: The stadium is flanked by a lake and over 20 acres of year-round public park space, and—if all goes according to plan—by 2022 it’ll be surrounded by a shopping district, residences, a hotel and offices (but for now it’s mostly just surrounded by about 10 parking lots).
It also somehow successfully translates L.A.’s ubiquitous indoor-outdoor vibes into a 70,000-person football stadium (with a capacity that can expand as high as 100,000, presumably for events like concerts). A translucent plastic skin over the entire structure allows for plenty of natural light but keeps it diffuse (the midday sun during our tour felt far less punishing than at an open-air stadium). For some cross ventilation, a series of 16 panels that measure 60 feet by 60 feet can be open and closed.
The outdoor feel really comes down to the open-air access points into SoFi. Stadium specialists HKS describe their design for these grand entrances as “canyons,” and that’s not just a talking point: Quintessentially Californian landscaping, the soaring canopy and some surprising elevation changes echo the vastness of L.A.’s canyons. Speaking of that elevation, due to height restrictions imposed by its nearness to LAX, the stadium’s field sits 100 feet below grade—so the ground-level entry actually opens onto the breezy sixth floor of the eight-level stadium. Even that high up, each stacked concourse still feels incredibly close to the field, especially compared to the long sloping stands of the L.A. Memorial Coliseum or the Rose Bowl.
We can’t believe we’ve made it this far without mentioning the scoreboard. Sure, if you want to just stare at a screen and watch football you can do that from home. But we seriously can’t get over just how cool the double-sided 360-degree display is. It’s literally the size of a football field (slightly larger, actually). No matter what level or side of the field we were on, we always had a clear view of its inner or outer ring. But with heights that range from 20 to 40 feet, it also never seemed overly obstructive or distracting (unlike, say, a stadium like Dallas, which looks like it’s had a colossal TV bolted to the ceiling).
Premium seating occupies about 20% of the stadium, and much of our tour was spent walking through SoFi’s many private clubs and suites—places that, even when fans are allowed again, your average ticket holder won’t be able to access. That means no champagne bar or no field level cabana. (Side note: Almost every lounge area seemed to feature beaded curtains or strands, which felt a little casino chic.) But that’s no matter: The top-down view and open-air backdrop make the main concourses seem like they’re the place to be.
As best as we can tell, the food vendors are all generically named for now, save for something like a Corona-branded lounge. And though menus and prices were posted (we’d say they’re typical double-digit stadiums prices), it’s barely even worth tackling in detail yet since who knows when you’ll actually be able to order a taco there.
And that brings us back to the fact that SoFi Stadium will open sans spectators, and that we really have to qualify everything with “eventually.” Eventually it’ll host the Super Bowl LVI in 2022, when the first phase of Hollywood Park’s retail expansion could be completed. SoFi will host the College Football National Championship in 2023 and Olympic opening and closing ceremonies in 2028, the same year the stadium is expected to be hooked up to Inglewood’s forthcoming people mover. And eventually fans will be able to watch the Rams and Chargers play there. But whenever that day comes, we think Angelenos will fall in love pretty quickly.