Sunday Night Football is back! The theme song is playing, the players run out of the tunnel with fireworks and flashing lights and Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels are pulling out all the catchphrases. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the return of Sunday Night Football provides some sense of normalcy.
However, this game is anything but normal at Los Angeles’s brand new, state of the art SoFi Stadium which will host the Super Bowl in 2022 and the Summer Olympics in 2028. Former USC football star Robert Woods recorded six catches for 105 yards as The LA Rams beat the Dallas Cowboys 20-17 to open the stadium with a win, but the venue was a defining factor of the broadcast. As Rams superstar defensive tackle Aaron Donald said, “To be at this stadium for the first time and break it in with a win, that’s what you work for."
Lindsey Chapman, USC Graduate and Premium Sales Consultant for SoFi Stadium representing the LA Rams, had the job of selling tickets to fans for a stadium they would not yet be able to enter. This was done primarily through screen sharing and virtual tours as some season ticket holders even bought cut-outs of themselves to be placed in the stands at the stadium’s inaugural game.
An attractive feature of Chapman’s sales proposal centered on season ticket holders having a 48-year license on their seats as opposed to the 20-30 year licenses many other stadiums provide. Without fans actually being able to attend, there were still some creative decisions to be made. One of these decisions was that the fans who bought tickets will receive a commemorative Cowboys-Rams game ticket. Depending on how you look at it, this commemorative ticket may hold even more value due to the unique circumstances of SoFi’s first event.
Chapman continued to elaborate on the process of this unique event, with everyone in the stadium that night being tested for COVID-19 and the first eight rows being covered with different stadium sponsors. There were very few people in the stadium and even some of its most senior management executives were unable to attend.
The majestic suites may not have been used in the capacity they were originally intended for yet, but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Rams owner Stan Kroenke were perched in their owners' suites. Kroenke watched the game unfold even with no fans as he still pulled out the stadium’s biggest stop: the Oculus scoreboard.
As Chapman puts it, the Oculus is, “360 degrees and completely dual-sided. Everything in the architecture was built for a reason [because] Kroenke wanted to have that wow factor.” The Oculus was certainly a wow factor as Collinsworth and Michaels expressed their amazement at the state-of-the-art screen during their broadcast.
“Everything went off without a glitch, pretty flawless, obviously we are undefeated,” Chapman said.
Being undefeated after Week 1 is always a great feeling for NFL fans, but in this case, fans of the Rams can also be confident that their new stadium is primed and ready for their inevitable return.
A previous version of this article misspelled Cris Collinsworth’s first name.