INGLEWOOD — The city is in the final stages of preparation for a series of events leading up to the Feb. 13 Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium a week after speculation that the surge in COVID-19 cases hitting the Los Angeles region might cause the National Football League to relocate Super Bowl LVI.
Rumors of the game’s relocation were squashed almost as soon as they developed by both the league and a top state health official.
State Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly told reporters Jan. 5 the state and Los Angeles County are both in touch with the NFL as part of the planning process to ensure steps are taken to prevent rapid virus spread associated with the Feb. 13 game.
“The Super Bowl represents people coming not just from California, Los Angeles, but from far and wide to multiple events,” Ghaly said. “And we are working — I know L.A. County is closely in contact with the NFL to make sure that strategies are put in place to ensure that people can enjoy this important event, while making sure that we put things in place that allow COVID mitigation to be a important feature of the approach to that game that is just over a month away.”
He later added, “The Super Bowl is coming to L.A. I think Californians are excited to see that event occur. The work is to make sure that as it is moving forward … that mitigation strategies that create safety around that event are in place, and [I’m] looking forward to a number of folks working to make sure that is there.”
Questions about relocating the Super Bowl arose after the Recording Academy announced that it had postponed the Grammy Awards ceremony that was scheduled for Jan. 31.
At the same time, an Arlington, Texas, television station reported that the NFL had reached out to officials at AT&T Stadium — home of the Dallas Cowboys — about the venue’s availability as a possible alternate Super Bowl location.
In a statement to media outlets, an NFL spokesman insisted that such inquiries are done every year as a contingency in case a last-minute need arises to relocate the Super Bowl.
“We plan on playing Super Bowl LVI as scheduled at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 13,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement. “As part of our standard contingency planning process that we conduct for all regular and postseason games, we have contacted several clubs to inquire about stadium availability in the event we cannot play the Super Bowl as scheduled due to weather-related issues or unforeseen circumstances.
“Our planning process for the Super Bowl in Los Angeles is ahead of schedule and we look forward to hosting the Super Bowl there to culminate another fantastic NFL season for our fans and clubs.”
Efforts to contact Mayor James T. Butts and other city officials were unsuccessful, but planning for a three-day music festival leading up to the Super Bowl continued in the city. The festival will be held Feb. 10-12 in conjunction with KJLH and on-air personality Guy Black.
“Save the date for the three-day music fest,” Black said during a radio spot for the event. He did not say who would be performing.
City Hall insiders said the city is sparing no expense in hiring talent for the event and the city could pay upwards of $10,000 per act, based on rates paid for performances held during previous city events.
The concert series will be held along Market Street, between Manchester Avenue and Regent Street.
A Taste of Inglewood also will host Market Street Vibez Feb. 10-12, which will feature 40 confirmed vendors including All Flavor No Grease, Wut-A-Pickle, Smitty’s Signature Pudding, and Aunt Emma’s Popcorn.
The organizer for that event is still accepting vendor applications at https://www.tasteofinglewood.com/vendors/become-vendor/ and three sponsorship packages are available.
Silver level is $10,000, Gold level is $15,000, and Platinum level is $20,000 with an application deadline of Feb. 1.
The Taste of Inglewood event is co-sponsored by the city, the Los Angeles Clippers, Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital, Blue Shield of California, KJLH, New Image Dental and Market Street Bar and Grill.
Last summer, the city allocated nearly $14 million towards additional police services for events at the Forum and SoFi Stadium, that carried over to the new fiscal year.
The city has yet to provide cost projections for public safety, entertainment, street closures and staffing in preparation of the events.
Los Angeles County’s public health director and Board of Supervisors chair both insisted the Super Bowl will go forward as planned.
“It will be challenging if the surge continues into February, but I do think we’re working closely with both the NFL and SoFi Stadium to have a wonderful Super Bowl here with the appropriate safety precautions that will keep fans safe and our community safe,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said during a media videoconference Jan. 6. “I feel really confident the event will happen here in L.A. There’s no indication that it won’t, and we’ll work really closely to enhance safety if, again, we’re still in the middle of a horrific surge.
“My hope is that by the time we get to February we’re on the downside of seeing this massive amount of community transmission,” she said.
County Supervisor Holly Mitchell told reporters there is no logic in moving the game.
“This is an international pandemic. I’m not sure why it would make more sense to have it in Texas,” she said.
But Mitchell said holding the event safety will be dependent on the people attending it.
“My plea is to all of those — local and those who will travel to Inglewood to SoFi Stadium for the Super Bowl — that you follow our health orders and that you mask,” she said. “I would encourage people to get vaccinated and boosted before you come.
“We shouldn’t assume that individual decisions don’t have the greatest impact in the spread of this virus,” she said. “It’s up to the individual to choose to stay masked through the entire game to keep themselves safe and everyone else.”
City News Service contributed to this story.
2 Urban Girls is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Compton and Inglewood areas. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.