- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
In Los Angeles, gridlock doesn’t necessarily signal an event. On Sunday, however, there was no mistaking the sea of vehicles tangled up on the streets of Inglewood for something major. But not even that accurately describes what went down as SoFi Stadium opened all its seats for the Los Angeles Rams home opener against the Chicago Bears.
It was the largest ticketed gathering the city has seen amid the COVID-19 pandemic with upwards of 70,000 in the building and because of that, it served almost as the first run-of-show for the home team’s $5 billion dollar, state-of-the-art stadium that, in a few short months, will host the global spectacle of Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13.
Both the Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers played on SoFi’s turf last year but the pandemic prevented fans from attending in-person. To welcome them back, organizers pulled out all the stops for a fully-loaded (and largely local) program to complement the NFL action on the field, which wound up as the exclamation point on the day with a Rams victory 34-14.
Parking lots opened at 1 p.m., four hours prior to kickoff with thousands taking advantage of the first tailgate experience. Fans were spotted playing music and cornhole, and maxing out their barbecues. As The Hollywood Reporter walked into SoFi, hordes of Bears fans were seen taking photos in front of the SoFi sign while one rowdy Rams fan amped up the rivalry shouting the home team’s chant, “Whose house? Rams house!”
Moments later, a huge group of fans for both teams came face to face with the driver of a black SUV that was attempting to pull into VIP parking. When the window came down, the driver was revealed to be Magic Johnson. He flashed a smile and posed for several selfies before pulling forward as the group erupted with touchdown-worthy cheers and applause.
The appearance by Johnson —pro sports royalty as a Lakers legend and co-owner of the Dodgers — once again signaled that Sunday’s opening was a major event on a busy cultural night with the Creative Arts Emmy Awards happening at L.A. Live and MTV’s Video Music Awards happening on the opposite coast.
Even Dodgers stars Corey Seager and Justin Turner high-tailed it from Dodger Stadium to SoFi to join Johnson in the stands following their 8-0 rout of the San Diego Padres. It’s not likely they made it in time to catch the pre-kickoff ceremony that featured NFL Network and radio host Rich Eisen marking the occasion by helping shine a spotlight on Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts, Inglewood City Council members George Dotson, Dionne Faulk, Eloy Morales and Alex Padilla, along with Rams legends Torry Holt and Jackie Slater and a handful of season ticket holders who played instrumental roles on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
National Anthem duties went to Tayler Green, a student from the city’s 1500 Sound Academy, founded by Grammy Award winners James Fauntleroy and Larrance Dopson. Hollywood contributed to amp up the action thanks to Oscar-winner Wally Pfister who partnered with the Rams to direct the sizzle that plays prior of the team rushing the field. The music continued at halftime with OneRepublic’s lead singer Ryan Tedder, guitarists Zach Filkins and Drew Brown, bassist and cellist Brent Kutzle, and drummer Eddie Fisher took the field to perform a short set.
As they rocked out, THR checked out the new Bootsy Bellows VIP Field Experience were Kevin Hart, David Arquette, Rams super fan Rebel Wilson, Wiz Khalifa, Skeet Ulrich, YG, Damson Idris, newlywed Don Benjamin, Rampage, the Rams mascot and John Terzian, co-founder of Bootsy Bellows and The h.wood Group were taking in the game. The field level suite, which will be filled with VIPs during games and concerts, saw its first action on Sunday.
“It’s pretty amazing to be here,” Terzian said of the launch. “It’s been five, six years in the making so to hear what people say when they walk in here and look around, it’s amazing. A lot of work, relationships and effort went into building this place out. So, today it’s fun. I’m absolutely in love with this place.”
Arquette, a Bootsy Bellows partner who helped name the club after his mother who performed burlesque using the moniker, was equally struck by the scene. “It’s such an honor to be at SoFi Stadium and to have this here,” said Arquette, who joked that Terzian and the h.wood team really went out of their way to celebrate his 50th birthday which fell on Sept. 8. “It means the world.”He also took a moment to cheer on the team, just as Rams running back Darrell Henderson Jr. made it into the end zone during the third quarter after a handoff from quarterback Matthew Stafford. “It’s a beautiful stadium. It’s so state-of-the-art and everyone, all the staff, are incredible. We are rooting for the Rams and we really want to bring the championship home.”
Now that would be an event. But even Arquette is not so sure he would be able to score tickets. “It’s hard to get in, even for me.”
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day