SoFi Stadium – Los Angeles Chargers
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.71
SoFi Stadium 1001 S. Stadium Dr Inglewood, CA 90301
Year Opened: 2020 Capacity: 70,000
Fight for L.A.
Though much of the history of the Chargers is rooted in San Diego, their history actually started in Angeles in 1960. The Chargers would head south in 1961 and for the next 55 years call San Diego their home. During that span, the Lightning Bolts would produce some exciting players, Lance Alworth, Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Junior Seau to name a few. The Chargers would win 13 division titles during that span, capped off with their lone AFC Conference Title in 1994 en route to Super Bowl XXIX.
But after several attempts at securing a new stadium, Chargers owner Dean Spanos decided he had enough and in 2017 the Chargers would pack their bags and return the Lightning Bolts back to where their history initially started.
Food & Beverage 2
For all the money spent for such a spectacular facility, one would think the food and beverage would be top notch. This is by far the most disappointing aspect of the SoFi Stadium experience. The variety and quality for most fans not seated in premium sections is borderline average and to most fans that may be a generous assessment.
The concessions are named after local streets and neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles and are meant to reflect their locale. Beyond the usual fare of burgers and the fried hot dogs, which many have complained about, there are Italian offerings such as the Stromboli dog wrapped in capicola, mortadella and salami baked inside a pizza dough with a side of red sauce, as well as a thick-cut pepperoni pizza, which seems to be dough heavy and we’re not talking deep dish quality either.
The cheeseburger sub, described by some locals as a foot long Big Mac, ACTUALLY received a positive review from fellow SJ correspondent Sean MacDonald.
Mexican fare such as the birria burrito is available at the Olvera Street stand. It’s a shame that the burrito lacking in flavor is not reflective of the food you can get at any of the small stalls along one of L.A.’s most popular, albeit touristy, streets.
The chicken salad sub has received some rave reviews. Too bad all the stands I went to were all sold out by halftime. You’d think one of the few items that fans have had something positive to say would be in great supply.
If you’re looking for something on the light side salads including a sesame ginger salad with kale, mandarin oranges, cashews, and carrots with an in-house ginger dressing are available at the Sawtelle Boulevard stand.
Pepsi products are the soda providers for SoFi Stadium. Craft and premium beer, ranging from Golden Road Blonde, Modelo Niagra and Michelob Ultra are some of the options available as well as more upscale cocktail drinks.
It took 25 years after the Rams and Raiders bolted from the southland before a spectacular new stadium would open. Football fans across L.A. have mostly welcomed their new digs with open arms. Unfortunately, the Chargers continue to struggle to establish a deep fan base as most games are often filled with majority visiting fans.
Like most areas where a new stadium is built the surrounding area is in a neighborhood revitalization phase so don’t expect to find a pre/postgame entertainment complex.
If you decide you want to stay within the stadium area, Los Angeles International Airport is nearby – 15 minutes west of the stadium with several hotel options.
To experience any of L.A.’s tourist options will require renting a car or bringing with you plenty of patience should you decide to get around via public transit. Ridesharing is also another option but depending on where you want to go, and the time of day can be very pricey. L.A. is not the type of city where the major tourist spots are in one central location so again plan accordingly.
It’s a known fact the Chargers are struggling to attract a fan base in Los Angeles. Even during the 20-year period between 1995 and 2015 when L.A. was without an NFL team, fans were supporting other teams throughout the league and many of them still maintained their loyalties towards the Rams and most notably the Raiders. Since their arrival in 2016, the “home crowd” at Chargers games have generally been outnumbered by the visiting teams’ fans that players from the opposite sidelines have expressed playing the Bolts in L.A. as just another home game.
Like many of Southern California’s highways, navigating your way around SoFi Stadium requires a great amount of patience. Because you’re in L.A., there will never be enough parking. The parking that is available onsite is somewhat limited and it is advised you purchase a pre-paid parking spot ahead of time. Tailgating spots are limited to the PINK ZONE only so plan accordingly.
If using public transportation, game day shuttles are provided from the Metro Green Line’s Hawthorne/Lennox light rail station. Be advised you will still want to arrive as early as possible as the busses have no dedicated access lane.
Inside the stadium, too many areas are inaccessible due to the placements of clubs/party areas or luxury suites. The only true area of the stadium where fans without premium tickets can circle around the venue is the 400 level.
Lines entering the stadium will have a long backup as kickoff approaches so do plan accordingly.
Also be advised that Los Angeles County requires spectators 12 and over attending major events to provide proof of final vaccination a minimum of two weeks prior to game day or a negative test result within 72 hours of gameday along with a photo ID. Staff will be checking fans for proper documents prior to entering the gates so to assist in cutting down line delays be prepared. More information is available here.
Return on Investment 3
Though the Chargers have yet to establish a true home field advantage they still produce a competitive product that poses a legitimate challenge for the AFC West’s top spot. Ticket prices can vary depending on the opponent but can be found for as low as $55 on various third-party online ticket outlets.
The one thing fans really appreciate is the spaciousness the concourse offer, particularly in the stadium’s upper reaches. Even with the roof fans walking throughout the concourse still get a feel for the outdoor elements. There are plenty of social and meeting places for fans to congregate throughout the concourse should they want a break from the in-game action.
One of the most impressive features inside SoFi Stadium that enhances the fan experience is the infinity screen by Samsung. The 70,000 square-foot, dual-sided video board stretches throughout the entire 100 yards presenting fans with state-of-the-art graphics including every possible game day stat. Fans sitting closest to the field are also offered great views of the board due to its unique dual-sided design. Early arriving fans can also view all the early gameday action throughout the league on the video board.
Perhaps as SoFi Stadium accumulates more service time there will be more displays and exhibits throughout the concourse featuring historical contributions and moments throughout the Rams and Chargers histories.
Though impressive and spacious, like most new venues, there are still some kinks to be worked out. Some, such as the parking issues and the traffic, are something that undoubtedly will not be a quick fix if it ever does (remember, this is L.A.).
Other issues, such as the food quality and the lack of access throughout the stadium for fans not seated in the premium areas along the sidelines from the 300 level and down are something that needs to be looked at. There’s just too much of a corporate feel to this place.
As for the Chargers establishing a deep L.A. following? Perhaps it will come to fruition eventually. The Lightning Bolts are currently in contention for a playoff spot and a deep run into January could win them a larger following as they continue to Fight For L.A.
Until then, expect the crowds to be heavy on visiting teams’ support, particularly when the AFC West Rival teams like the Raiders, who still have a deep L.A. following, Chiefs and Broncos are in town.
Special thanks to fellow SJ correspondent Sean MacDonald for providing some of his thoughts. Check out his blog following his Sports Road Trips.