NFL’s Largest & Most Dazzling Stadium Complete in Inglewood, California
by Ali Turner, editorial & multimedia manager
The Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers both have a new home at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. After substantial delays caused by record-breaking rainfall and a global pandemic, the one-of-a-kind stadium is finally complete and ready to serve Southern California as a premier sports and entertainment venue. SoFi Stadium is the first indoor-outdoor stadium to be constructed and is currently the NFL’s largest, at 3.1 million sq.ft. The $5 billion stadium can seat a maximum of 100,000 guests, and includes 12 club spaces, a 6,000-seat performance venue, a 2-1/2 acre covered outdoor plaza, and a dual-sided elliptical video board with integrated sound system.
FabriTec Structures, Dallas, Texas, a specialist in the construction and installation of custom tensile structures and façades, was brought onto the project in 2018 as the design-build contractor. FabriTec installed a unique single-layer ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) roof on the gigantic stadium. ETFE is a highly transparent extruded film that has good UV stability, as well as chemical and heat resistance. At just 1% the weight of glass, ETFE allows architects to design revolutionary venues such as SoFi Stadium.
“Membrane roofs have been a fast-growing trend among stadiums for several years,” explained Gary Taylor, marketing, FabriTec. “I anticipate that many more buildings will be using membrane roofs in the future.”
HKS Architects, Dallas, Texas, had a specific design for the project. The indoor-outdoor aesthetic of the stadium is a reflection of the Southern California lifestyle. The translucent cable net roof and indoor seating design evokes a feeling of an outdoor venue, while still being protected from unexpected weather hazards. Walter P Moore, Houston, Texas, took the concepts thought up by HKS and engineered them into fruition. FabriTec worked closely with Walter P Moore’s engineers in a collaborative design-build process. FabriTec’s sister company, PFEIFER, was involved in the one million lbs. of cable tensioning throughout the stadium.
There are 28,000 LED pucks that project images onto the roof, which are visible to the guests in the stands as well as airplane passengers flying overhead. “Architects love using lighting in conjunction with our fabric roofs,” said Taylor.
In an age of increased digital experiences rather than in-person ones, SoFi Stadium is uniquely equipped to navigate these new trends. The 2.2 million lb. elliptical video board can transcend the stadium experience and provide high-quality content to fans both near and far. Spanning 120 yards and covering 70,000 sq.ft., the Oculus, as it has been named, is suspended from the stadium’s roof, acting as a 4k video halo above the field. The integration of technology into the stadium was a carefully imagined factor in the design of the venue.
One challenge surrounding the project was the physical proximity of the stadium to nearby Los Angeles International Airport. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements demand that all construction equipment and infrastructure be built under strict height requirements so as not to impede upon the surrounding airspace. One way to appease the FAA was to lower the field 100’ beneath ground level.
While the mass excavation project and field lowering solved the height restriction set by the FAA, it was also the subject of another challenge on the jobsite. During construction, Los Angeles was privy to an unusually heavy winter rainfall, which delayed the construction of the stadium. While other parts of the stadium could have undergone construction during rainfall, the sheer magnitude of the dirt removal site proved to be too risky. Originally scheduled for a 2019 opening, these heavy rains delayed the opening to the following year.
SoFi is expected to host Super Bowl LVI in 2022, as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and a few sporting events for the 2028 Summer Olympics. As the world returns to normal, athletes, musicians, and fans have a dazzling new arena to look forward to.