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A day after the NFL confirmed that it was exploring contingency plans for Super Bowl LVI in the event that COVID-19 conditions make Los Angeles untenable as a host city, local officials are saying SoFi Stadium will likely host the global spectacle Feb. 13.
“I feel really confident the event will happen here in L.A. There’s no indication that it won’t,” Los Angeles Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday during a virtual media briefing (seen below) at which she was joined by Holly J. Mitchell, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ chair. “It will be challenging if the surge continues into February, but we’re working closely with both the NFL and SoFi Stadium to have a wonderful Super Bowl here with the appropriate safety precautions that will keep fans safe and our community safe.”
Separately, Mayor James Butts of Inglewood, home to SoFi Stadium, said he’s seen nothing in the latest data to force a move. “Don’t worry about it,” said Butts in a new report from NBC Los Angeles. “The Super Bowl is going to be played in February, in Inglewood, in the City of Champions.”
The statements come less than 24 hours after a swath of reports about the NFL eyeing potential new venues, specifically AT&T Stadium, home to the Dallas Cowboys, for the big game amid a record-breaking surge in COVID-19 cases due to Omicron. But health experts, like Ferrer, remain optimistic that the current wave could pass in a matter of weeks because the variant, while infectious, results in a much milder, cold-like illness in those who are vaccinated. During Thursday’s briefing, Ferrer reported a record number of positive cases, 37,215, and 30 additional deaths in the county. She also noted how vaccinated and boosted individuals are 38 times less likely to be hospitalized than those who are unvaccinated and four times less likely to be infected, showing how less dire the current wave is than last year’s or even during 2020.
Texas station WFAA reported that NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said contingency plans are routine and that plans are proceeding for Los Angeles. “We plan on playing Super Bowl LVI as scheduled at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 13,” McCarthy said, per the outlet. “As part of our standard contingency planning process that we conduct for all regular and postseason games, we have contacted several clubs to inquire about stadium availability in the event we cannot play the Super Bowl as scheduled due to weather-related issues or unforeseen circumstances. Our planning process for the Super Bowl in Los Angeles is ahead of schedule and we look forward to hosting the Super Bowl there to culminate another fantastic NFL season for our fans and clubs.”
Adding to the anxiety this week was the sheer number of large-scale events that were postponed or canceled due to this current phase of the pandemic. The Grammy Awards, the Sundance Film Festival, the Critics Choice Awards, the Academy’s Governors Awards and other major events have been impacted by the virus in recent days. Losing the Super Bowl would be a huge blow to Los Angeles as this would be the first NFL championship game to be set at the new $5 billion SoFi Stadium and the city had been prepping for a number of parties, events and concerts in the lead-up to the game. Furthermore, the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show is to feature L.A. legends Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar alongside Eminem and Mary J. Blige.
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