UPDATED with comment from Rams coach: After months of speculation, the decision is in: SoFi Stadium, the new home of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, will open its inaugural season next month without fans in the stands amid the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a joint statement from the teams and the stadium (read it below), “Rams and Chargers games will be held without fans in attendance until further notice.”
“It’s a bummer,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said at a news conference today. “But, obviously, these are kind of the times that we’re living in. … We’ll hopefully be able to get fans in there sooner than later, but it’s all for the right reasons and being safe and being smart. That’s part of the circumstances that we’re dealing with.”
The news comes less than three weeks before the Rams open the new venue with a game against the Dallas Cowboys in NBC’s Sunday Night Football season opener on September 13. The Chargers open their 2020 home schedule the following week against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and their half-billion-dollar quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Speaking of the Cowboys, owner Jerry Jones said this month that his team’s massive AT&T Stadium will welcome live crowds this season. The Chiefs also are among the teams that will a limited number of fans attending the first games of 2020. Kansas City will kick off the NFL season September 10 in an NBC primetime matchup against the Houston Texans.
The newly moved Las Vegas Raiders will play the team’s inaugural home campaign in Sin City without fans in the seats, owner Mark Davis said Monday in an email to season-ticket holders. The Oakland and Los Angeles expats will play in the brand-new 65,000-seat, $1.9 billion Allegiant Stadium off the Las Vegas Strip.
The Rams opener will be the first event at the $5 billion venue on the old Hollywood Park site near the Forum in Inglewood. Several concerts slated for the summer — including Taylor Swift, Guns N’ Roses and the quadruple bill starring Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe — were canceled amid the coronavirus shutdowns.
The Rams and Chargers both are being featured in this season’s edition of HBO’s popular training-camp docuseries Hard Knocks. The show has been heavy on coronavirus elements, showing testing and Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn revealing that he tested positive and recovered well before training camp. The NFL reported Monday that no player has tested positive thus far.
Here is the joint statement from the Rams, Chargers and SoFi Stadium, followed by a statement from Rams owner E. Stanley Kroenke:
“After careful consideration and discussion with State and local health officials, the Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Chargers and SoFi Stadium have announced that Rams and Chargers games will be held without fans in attendance until further notice.
“While we all look forward to coming together to celebrate this new era of sports and entertainment in Los Angeles, the health and safety of our fans, community, players and staff remains our top priority.
“We will continue to work with LA County Department of Public Health and the City of Inglewood on a plan that, when circumstances permit, safely brings fans to SoFi Stadium and adheres to local, State, CDC and NFL guidelines.
“Should conditions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic significantly improve – and State guidance evolve – to the point we believe fans can safely attend games at SoFi Stadium, we will communicate the news at that time.”
“While we are doing everything to safely open SoFi Stadium and ultimately fulfill its promise to Rams fans, the NFL and to this region, we know our ability to welcome fans into the building will be guided by the wisdom of health care experts and the policies of local, state and federal government officials. Therefore, we won’t speculate on any timeline as to when fans will be able to join us. The health and well-being of our employees, community and the nation, remains our highest concern.
“Millions across California and the country are on the front lines fighting COVID-19, caring for our neighbors and protecting our communities. We applaud their selfless and tireless heroism and thank them for their many sacrifices.
“All of us can’t wait until the day we come together to celebrate life and resiliency through sports. Until then, we ask that everyone continue to stay safe and support one another.”
Dade Hayes contributed to this report.