Inside SoFi Stadium, the Super Bowl’s $5.5 Billion Showcase Stage
The Sports Stadium of the Future?
SoFi Stadium figures to be one of the showier stars of Super Bowl Sunday. The most expensive sports stadium ever built ($5.5 billion) is quickly becoming a major event staple. After the LA Rams and Cincinnati Bengals face off in the big game, Stan Kroenke’s Inglewood stunner is set to host the College Football national championship game in 2023 (one year before Houston hosts the game in the more traditional NRG Stadium) and is scheduled to host both the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Olympics.
Designed by international firm HKS Architects, SoFi is a entertainment palace as much as a sports stadium. Texans are well acquainted with the cushy aesthetics of HKS design ― the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium and the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Field are two examples of its work.
Many of the design elements are easy to see, like the distinctive Samsung Infinity Screen that spans 70,000 square feet with an 80 million pixel display — and weighs a staggering 2.2 million pounds.
Other important features will be barely noticeable to Super Bowl attendees, like the fact that some of this open-air stadium is actually below ground. Since SoFi Stadium sits directly in the flight path of Los Angeles International Airport, which is located just three miles away, designers placed the stadium 100 feet below ground to adhere to strict Federal Aviation Administration height restrictions.
Here’s what else you should know about SoFi:
The Power of Three
Part of the 300-acre Hollywood Park mixed-use development in Inglewood, SoFi Stadium is the NFL’s largest venue, measuring in a 3.1 million square feet. The massive stadium is part of an even larger campus.
All three venues are housed under the massive sail shaped, swooping roof. These three separate, but interconnected venues can host simultaneous events that won’t disrupt one another. Besides SoFi Stadium, there’s the YouTube Theater concert venue and the American Airlines Plaza for outdoor events and parties.
The SoFi Stadium Design
SoFi’s monumental exterior shell is meant to be reminiscent of the Pacific coastal waves that wash ashore just about five miles away. The stadium’s porous canopy is comprised of a skeleton of more than 35,000 anodized aluminum panels. No two are the same. It’s very Frank Gehry in flowing form.
Much like HKS did with Globe Life Field, the firm employed single layer ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) at SoFi. The lightweight material can span huge swaths for both walls and roofing, and has many other advantages. ETFE reduces solar heat gain and allows natural light to flood into the stadium and nearby plaza. SoFi’s fritted roof is comprised of more than 300 panels ― 46 of which can be opened to take advantage of prevailing winds, lessening the need for air conditioning.
With ground that has a tendency to shake, the entire stadium needed to be engineered to withstand seismic events. That’s another reason that the roof is detached from other components, meaning the stadium bowl, YouTube Theater and American Airlines Plaza can independently move in response to shifts in the Inglewood seismic fault line.
Taking full advantage of Southern California’s cool, breezy weather, the roof is actually a canopy ― so the entire stadium is still open air. SoFi Stadium does not have traditional exterior walls. Instead, the long-span cable roof structure anchors to the ground in four locations.
The roof canopy covers the American Airlines Plaza ― a three-acre multipurpose outdoor event space.
YouTube Theater is Hollywood Park’s only fully enclosed indoor space. The theater brings world-class performance design and entertainment technology together in an intimate venue.
The canopy even provides a view for those planes taking off and landing at LAX, thanks to an LED system which has been embedded in the ETFE panels. The system projects video on the top of the stadium, without sacrificing transparency inside the stadium. This means live feeds can be seen from the air by passengers landing and departing.
The Fan Experience
While all the engineering marvels that make SoFi possible will hardly be noticed, the luxury feel, attention to detail and massive upgrades can be seen, touched and felt.
Open concourses, like those at Globe Life Field, allow for unobstructed views of the action while fans move throughout the concourse. And landscaped canyons draw visitors into the stadium. With approximately 70,000 fixed seats, SoFi also has the ability to expand to accommodate up to 102,400 people with removable seating for mega events like the Super Bowl. The stadium’s club spaces, suites and concourse areas extend all the way down to the field level.
The one thing all ticket holders can enjoy is the first dual-sided 4K LED display system. The Infinity Screen by Samsung is the largest one in sports. It is suspended above the playing field and is visible from every seat.
With 25 acres of open public space and year-round events, SoFi Stadium is already making a super impact even before the big game.
This article was originally written by Courtney Wabney and appeared here.