By Ray Richardson
INGLEWOOD — Street closures. A big assist from the Los Angeles Police Department. The low-key presence of the FBI. A “takeover” of the Inglewood Senior Center.
These initiatives are just a fraction of the two-year game plan the city of Inglewood has undertaken to prepare for the Feb. 13 Super Bowl matchup between the Rams and Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium.
“We’ve got a comprehensive plan in place to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors,” Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts said this week. “We know this will be a crowning moment for our city.”
Many subtle security measures have already been implemented, but street closures, perhaps the most visible sign that the game is not far away, will begin Feb. 10.
Inglewood residents will have to find alternate routes when northbound Prairie Avenue closes between Victory Street and Touchdown Drive from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Yukon Avenue from Century Boulevard to Stadium Drive is also closed starting that day.
More street closures near SoFi Stadium and The Forum will be implemented Feb. 13 starting as early as 7 a.m.
The LAPD, as well as police units from Hawthorne, Torrance and other neighboring suburbs are assisting Inglewood Police with security details and traffic control near SoFi and surrounding areas. The NFL has agreed to reimburse the LAPD and other police units for overtime help in assisting Inglewood Police.
Monitoring activity on the ground is not the only security concern leading up to the game. Federal Aviation Administration officials are placing a no-fly ban on personal drone devices beginning Feb. 11. Individuals will not be able to fly their drones within 30 miles of SoFi.
As for the Inglewood Senior Center, the FBI is among several security agencies that is using the facility as a command post for Super Bowl operations. The agencies have been operating in the Senior Center for two weeks.
“When we designed the Senior Center, we built it with the idea of using it as an emergency outlet if needed,” Butts said. “It has everything we need to do what needs to be done.”
All senior activities had been suspended because of COVID-19 concerns, so moving in the security agencies was an easy process. No seniors were displaced because of the security presence in the building. Activities at the center are expected to resume when COVID restrictions are lifted in the Los Angeles County area.
In the aftermath of a highly publicized beating of a San Francisco 49ers fan at SoFi during the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 30, Butts remained confident that the Super Bowl will be “the safest Super Bowl in history.”
Daniel Luna, 40, a restaurant owner in San Francisco, has been in a coma since his altercation with Brian Alexis Cifuentes-Rossell, 33 in the SoFi parking lot. Cifuentes-Rossell is claiming self-defense.
“Every effort is being made to make sure nothing like that happens again,” Butts said. “That incident lasted only about 5-10 seconds. It wasn’t a case where a group of people were beating up somebody.
“We’re working extremely hard to let everyone know that Inglewood is a vibrant, safe and attractive city. We’ve proven it. We have two NFL teams (Rams and Chargers) and an NBA team (Los Angeles Clippers) on the way.”
To help with crowd control and the influx of people converging into the SoFi and Hollywood Park area, Butts said pedestrian traffic will be limited. Butts added that security details will begin setting up a perimeter around SoFi Feb. 12 to help monitor crowds.
On game day, Butts indicated that only people with game tickets or official credentials and employees will be permitted into the immediate stadium grounds. Butts said he is attending the game.
“Sunday will be a huge day of pride for the Inglewood community,” Butts said.
Ray Richardson is a contributing writer for The Wave. He can be reached at email@example.com.