Severe rainfall over the early phases of construction has delayed the opening of a new Inglewood stadium that will host the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. Rather than opening in 2019 as originally planned, the venue will now debut in 2020.
Ground was broken last November for the new stadium, beginning a construction period that was supposed to ensure a 2019 opening. Ultimately complicating the process was the weather, as heavy rainfalls affected the project during the mass excavation phase of construction. Los Angeles International Airport–which is located near the stadium site–reported 15.4 inches of rain in the period from November through February.
Officials acknowledge that the weather caused more issues for the project than anticipated, and are now targeting a 2020 completion rather than attempting to rush for a 2019 opening. For the NFL, one of the questions it could address is the status of Super Bowl LV, which is slated to be played at the Inglewood stadium in 2021. More from The Los Angeles Times:
“The continuing rains really knocked us for a loop,” said Bob Aylesworth, principal in charge for the Turner/AECOM Hunt joint venture that is building the stadium. “It was a very unforgiving two months for the project. And speaking from a building perspective, it really couldn’t have come at a worse time.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell informed the league’s 32 team owners of the delay during a conference call Thursday.
Last year, the league chose the Inglewood stadium as host venue for Super Bowl LV in February 2021. However, NFL rules – always subject to change – do not allow a venue to host that marquee event in its inaugural season. So the league, which has its annual May meeting in Chicago next week, would need to issue a waiver to keep the game in L.A.
Inclement weather brought work on the sprawling project to a standstill for two months earlier this year. The rain fell at a crucial stage of construction when work centered on digging the enormous hole — 5 million cubic yards of dirt were excavated — in which the stadium will sit.
At times, the site looked like a lake, with water standing 12 to 15 feet deep. After the downpours, the excavated area had to be drained before work could resume.
The Rams and Chargers will now have to stay at their temporary homes one year longer than originally expected. The Rams are slated to play the 2019 campaign at the L.A. Coliseum, while the Chargers are expected to play that season at the StubHub Center–the venue that will begin hosting their home games this fall. The developers of the new stadium project, which is being billed as the L.A. Stadium and Entertainment District, issued a statement on Thursday that addressed the situation:
We want to provide an update on the 70,000-seat stadium and 300-acre entertainment district being built on the site of the legendary Hollywood Park Racetrack in Inglewood, CA. The stadium will be the home of both the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams as well as feature sporting events, major concerts, and other entertainment year-round.
The development team broke ground last November and since then hundreds of people every day have been working tirelessly on the construction. To date, the stadium bowl is 90-feet deep and fully excavated, with six million cubic yards of dirt removed across the site.
Unfortunately, Southern California experienced record-setting rain this winter. Despite bringing drought relief to the region, the rain fell during the mass excavation period of construction when no other work could proceed in wet conditions. As a result, we experienced significant delays and lost the better part of two months from early January into the beginning of March.
In the best interest of the project, we have decided to move the opening date to summer of 2020. This new target gives us flexibility to accommodate any additional delays that may arise while still delivering an unparalleled experience upon opening. This is a stadium that Angelenos, visitors and world-class athletes will celebrate for years to come, and we are committed to making sure this venue is exceptional from the day it opens.
The development team felt it best to make the decision now, early in the process, to cause the least amount of disruption to our fans, partners and the community later on. We will open the stadium with entertainment and sporting events leading into a full slate of home games for both the Rams and Chargers.
Our promise is to deliver a transformational district that represents a merger of sports, entertainment and real estate that is unparalleled. We owe it to NFL fans, partners of the project, the cities of Inglewood and Los Angeles, and the NFL to get this right. For more information about the L.A. Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park, visit LASED.com.
As it stands, there could be at least two new NFL stadiums debuting in 2020, with the Inglewood stadium opening in the same season as the new Las Vegas stadium for the Oakland Raiders.