STADIUM DUDE’S NFL STADIUM RANK: #6
- Located: Inglewood, CA
- Opened: 2020
- Capacity: 70,240
- Weather: n/a (indoors)
- Games Attended: 2
- Last visited: 2021
We’re now officially into the “Wow” stadiums. And SoFi may be the “wowiest” of the bunch.
SoFi Stadium is the gleaming new home of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers. It was closed to fans during the 2020 season, but finally opened to the public in 2021, 5 years and $5.5 billion after breaking ground. It is one of the most expensive buildings ever erected on the planet, and has a “Oooh Factor” that modern architecture often lacks.
A Stunningly-Beautiful Facility. Football’s best.
The place truly is gorgeous. The exterior roof, the seating bowl and the retaining walls are all separate structures to protect it in case of earthquake. The crystal ETFE roof provides UV protection while letting outside sunlight shine in. The place was build with sustainability in mind, and comes with a large swath of California Cool.
The most amazing feature is the cutting-edge, ovular, double-sided 4K HDR video board. This 80-million-pixel Oculus is bananas and rivals the Jerry World screen for the best in North American pro sports. Get there early and watch the ends of the earlier games. The stadium’s 260-speaker audio system pumps out incredible sound, and the place has more than fifty 5G wireless antennas to give you better internet connection than you do at home. Seating is spacious with good leg room, cup holders, and great sight lines.
A neutral-site game vibe
Unlike the NFL’s other shared venue facility, SoFi doesn’t look markably different depending on the home team because both LA teams share a similar color plate. As was the case in their previous homes, there are a lot of visiting fans at LA football games, thus mitigating home field advantage somewhat. In fairness, the Rams crowd is more pro-Rams and can get loud, but right now at Charger games, the visiting fans are still outnumbering the “home” fans by a wide margin. This makes for a weird experience.
Some serious operational growing pains
From an operations standpoint, this place needs work. There isn’t enough staff, and everyone is inexperienced; as such, you end up with crazy-long lines for concessions and unhelpful customer service. Parking is a nightmare. It’s crazy expensive even by NFL standards (in part because options other than driving are still limited), and they haven’t figured out how to properly manage post-game exits without making it feel like you’re in Ben-Hur’s death-defying chariot race. Hopefully, this gets fixed over time, because missing substantive game time while in line for grossly overpriced beer and mediocre food sucks. And facing an hour-long exit jam can really detract from the physical magnificence of this place. And physically magnificent it is.
Five+ billion dollars bought LA football fans a ton of “Wow”. If they figure out the “How”, this place will climb further to the top of the list.