In just six months, Taylor Swift is scheduled to step onto a stage inside a stadium that’s currently a dusty cement bowl filled with busy construction workers moving around a 120-yard-long, 45-foot-high black oval sitting in the center.
A few weeks after that concert on July 25, the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers will play their first preseason games in a stadium that currently has only a few dozen rows of the 70,000 seats installed, and almost nowhere to park in the construction site surrounding it.
The leaders of the 3,500 workers feverishly building SoFi Stadium south of downtown Los Angeles say everything is on schedule at SoFi Stadium despite its dusty appearance. The builders say the stadium is 85% complete, but the finishing touches will take up much of the construction horde’s remaining time before late July.
“The finishes for the whole building, that’s the last piece,” Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff said. “All of the structural stuff is (already) in place, and I think everybody here feels confident about the timeline and how it will come together. There’s been no indication to us that there’s been any slippage.”
That massive black oval in the center of SoFi Stadium is the Oculus video board, which will be raised to the translucent roof when completed. The 2.2 million-pound creation has the largest LED content playback system ever designed, and the stadium will have a4K high-dynamic-range imaging production facility just to create content for the double-sided board.
That dazzling, massive device is the technological centerpiece of a stadium that is showcasing old-fashioned American football to Los Angeles, which went 21 years without an NFL team before the Rams returned in 2016 and the Chargers followed in 2017.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke is privately financing the entire construction, but the price tag has ballooned over the years since he first earned the NFL’s right to relocate from St. Louis largely on the promise of this NFL showpiece. The total cost of the project is currently estimated at $5 billion, making it easily the most expensive stadium in league history.
Originally slated to open in 2019, SoFi Stadium still isn’t finished — but everyone involved is publicly confident they’ll beat the latest deadline.
“I’m sure as Taylor Swift comes in, we’ll have hammers and screwdrivers, and we’ll be hanging things,” Demoff said with a laugh. “Everybody we’ve talked to about finishing buildings has said that up until 10 minutes before the doors open for the first event, you’re scrambling to hang pictures and fix everything, and I think that’s going to be true for this building as well. But we’re also excited about the stage it’s at and where it’s going.”
Swift is scheduled to open the building with the first concerts of her new tour. Football will follow in August, along with several additional concerts stretching into the fall.
The Rams and Chargers will use SoFi Stadium’s late-summer concerts and their own preseason games to work out any quirks or adjustments before the regular season begins. Kenny Chesney, Motley Crue and Def Leppard are among the early acts scheduled to hit the stage in the weeks after Swift’s shows.
And that’s just the beginning. The stadium will host the Super Bowl in February 2022 and the College Football Playoff championship game in January 2023, followed by events in the 2028 Summer Olympics. An annual college bowl game will debut this December, slotted somewhere among at least 19 NFL games, with one on almost every weekend between Labor Day and January.
The structure of the 6,000-seat amphitheater nestled under the extended arm of the oversized stadium roof also appears to be firmly in place. The 298-acre Hollywood Park development surrounding the stadium will take longer to complete, although construction is already underway on the 450,000-square-foot building that will house NFL Media in 2021.
The crews are also currently building the stadium’s translucent roof, with roughly 40% of the panels already in place.
While the work still to be done is obvious, the stadium builders are thrilled by how far they’ve come.
“We’re making a tremendous amount of progress on the site,” said Jason Gannon, the stadium development’s managing director. “We remain on schedule to deliver this summer.”