INGLEWOOD, Calif. — With the Super Bowl just a month away, preparations are well underway for the return of the flagship NFL event to the place where it all began.
And both NFL officials and local organizers say the championship game won’t leave the Los Angeles area.
The NFL has no plans to move the Super Bowl to Arlington, Texas or anywhere else, despite the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and associated health measures in California, several officials confirmed at SoFi Stadium on Thursday at a media event aimed at occassion of a month before the 56th edition of the Super Bowl on February 13.
“All of our plans for Super Bowl week will remain in full effect for a month from today,” said Katie Keenan, the NFL’s senior director of event operations. “We’re working with everyone here, with the LA County Health Department, to make sure all of our events are kept safe.”
The first Super Bowl was held at the Coliseum in downtown Los Angeles in January 1967. The 56th edition will be held for the first time to Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s 2-year-old stadium, which opened in the summer of 2020 just south of Los Angeles with a unique indoor-outdoor design with a translucent roof and significant airflow from the open ends above the low-slung bowl.
Earlier this month, there was a media frenzy when the NFL explored the feasibility of using the Dallas CowboysAT&T Stadium as a backup venue for the Super Bowl, ostensibly in the event that California coronavirus rules prevented the league from holding a Super Bowl here.
The NFL immediately confirmed it finds backup venues for the Super Bowl every year and said it had no serious concerns about its ability to hold the game in Inglewood.
Several California universities severely restricted fan attendance at indoor sports events in January after a series of postponements due to the coronavirus. But those decisions were made by the universities rather than by a state mandate, and Southern California’s professional sports teams have failed to follow suit, with the Rams and Chargers welcoming packed houses in January.
Kevin Demoff, chief operating officer of the Rams, noted that SoFi has established comprehensive coronavirus safety protocols for all 17 regular-season games played at the stadium by the Rams and Chargers. Those precautions are still in effect Monday night for the first play-off game in the stadium’s history, when the fourth-seeded Rams (12-5) host the Arizona Cardinals (11-6).
“I don’t think anyone has ever hesitated to play this game here and safely,” Demoff said. “We’ve had a great, safe environment all year round. We’re lucky that this is an outdoor facility where air comes in. We feel this building is very safe. People who come to our games have learned to be safe, and We are doing everything we can to be safe.”