At a media event held at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood late on Thursday, NFL officials confirmed that Super Bowl LVI will still be held at the stadium after weeks of concern following reports that the NFL had been looking at other sites to replace it.
Los Angeles was slated to host the 2022 Super Bowl since being awarded it in 2017. While COVID-19 worries, as well as California’s stricter masking and vaccination policies, were of concern to some, the sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in California, fueled largely by the omicron variant, increased speculation that the game could be moved to another site. Reports of officials looking at other sites for backup locations, such as Arlington, Texas’ AT&T Stadium, forced Los Angeles city officials to announce that they would still be hosting earlier this month.
“The Super Bowl is coming to L.A. I think Californians are excited to see that event occur and the work is to be sure that, as it is moving forward as planned, the mitigation strategies that create safety around that event are in place,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly earlier this month.
Despite their reassurances, an increasing number of Southern Californian events, including the NCAA’s Holiday Bowl and the Grammy Awards, were either delayed until later this year or cancelled all-together. This forced the NFL to give official statements that there are currently no plans to move the game outside of Los Angeles barring a major emergency such as an earthquake or other disaster.
“All of our plans for Super Bowl week remain fully in place for a month from today,” NFL senior director of event operations Katie Keenan said on Thursday. “We’re working along with everyone here, with the LA County Health Department, to make sure all of our events are being held safely.”
The NFL’s final word ended all speculation of the league moving the game because of COVID-19 and will now push forward on finishing touches for the game when it is played on February 13th.
“I don’t think anybody has ever wavered on being able to play this game here and play it safely,” added Los Angeles Rams Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff. “We’ve had an amazing, safe environment all year. We are fortunate this is an outdoor facility where the air gets 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.”
Sporting event experts also noted that changing the venue would be very difficult at this point, due to the logistics in setting up the Super Bowl each year.
“There’s so much to think about for the Super Bowl,” Steve Roscoe, a PR Representative who has worked for multiple teams in the past, explained to the Globe on Friday. “This means suddenly moving thousands of hotel reservations, a new agreement with a city, moving all equipment already sent out, moving all associated events, getting other city ready, paying off the insurance for the city that lost it. And then there are all the lawsuits that would come. Business owners expecting a huge bump for fans in town would be upset, as would police and security forces who suddenly have bolstered numbers for that date to now not have it.”
“It may sound easy to just switch it, but there are a lot of repercussions no one usually thinks about.”
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