Los Angeles Rams 2020 Inaugural Scrimmage at SoFi Stadium
August 27, 2020
The House that Stan Built was well worth the wait. The Los Angeles Rams made their first official visit to the very impressive SoFi Stadium in the heart of Inglewood. The players were in awe when they stepped onto the turf in their street clothes upon arrival at the $5 billion state-of-the-art facility on Saturday, August 22, that will serve as their home for decades upon decades to come.
"How amazing!" said Rams head coach Sean McVay following the scrimmage. "It's something spectacular. I haven't seen anything like it. I thought it was really special just watching the players' reactions, that how magnificent this is out here."
"But it's a real credit to Mr. Kroenke. You look at the amount of time, the vision that he had, the passion... I know our players and our coaches certainly don't take that for granted. Today was great to be here."
Quarterback Jared Goff was equally impressed: "It was really amazing. We have to be so thankful to Mr. Kroenke and everything he's done... really since I've been here in L.A. To get this thing ready and this thing going is truly amazing. I think the crown jewel in sports now is this place."
Starting outside linebacker Samson Ebukam said it best: "I can't really put it into words. I've got to thank Mr. Kroenke for this one because it's huge. Everything's state-of-the-art. Brand new. I've never been in a brand new stadium. So, this is pretty awesome. It's breath-taking."
Goff is excited to now have an "indoor" stadium, a blessing for most quarterbacks. He could feel the warm breeze coming through both ends of the stadium that are open to air above the lower seating levels. He liked the way the ball jumped inside the stadium. The ceiling, supported by a woven matrix of steel, is a versatile sky dome capable of altering light and dreams.
The most prominent feature of SoFi Stadium is the Oculus, a scoreboard / motion graphic ring that is suspended high above the field like an angel's halo overlooking the players, fans, patrons and coaching staffs that will be lucky enough to compete and get a great view of the games from any angle in the spacious facility.
Punter Johnny Hekker was especially excited about the Oculus for a different reason. "It was great... Okay, that thing looks pretty hitable'. And of course, the thing is never going to be an issue in the game because of how it wraps the entire outside of the field," said Hekker.
"But warming up, it's going to be every punter's goal to sit under that thing and rip one up into it. I connected on one pretty good and it was still pretty short. So, I'm not sure. I just have to keep working, keep grinding, and I'm going to get one off the Oculus one of these days."
The actual scrimmage featured the offense in the Rams new bone-white uniforms against the defense clad in Rams Royal blue. All wore the Rams new logo-designed helmets while both uniforms were trimmed with a new Sol yellow tint. Unofficially, the offense scored 20 points in the 'first half' but only generated three field goals in the shorter 'second half' as the defense started to gel.
"Honestly, with this scrimmage we were definitely feeling it out to see what it was like to be in a game since we haven't been on the field in so long because of COVID," said Ebukam.
"The goal was not to make any mental errors. We didn't pass that test today. We had some mistakes and we just got to go back to the drawing board and fix it. For the most part I feel the defense communicated and we did the best that we could."
There were some aesthetic concerns with the piped-in sound designed to simulate actual crowd noise that won't actually be there. Remarkably, SoFi will not have any fans for the foreseeable future due to COVID protocol adherence. There were also a few technical issues with the wireless communication system between the players on the field and the coaching staff on the sidelines.
"There's nothing like real crowd noise. In some instances that fake crowd noise is nothing but irritating," sardonically pronounced McVay, which drew laughs from the media. What's going on in between those white lines is really all that matters. Players have the ability to focus and concentrate. Certainly there's nothing like what the crowd brings to the atmosphere and environment."
Reluctantly, the Rams announced to their fans that the Stadium is not ready to welcome them: "In following local and state guidelines, our opener against the Dallas Cowboys will be played without fans in attendance. We will continue to evaluate the ability to safely host fans at the Rams House and keep you updated should we be able to do so at some point this season."
Owner Stan Kroenke added a personal note: "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."
The Rams will revisit SoFi Stadium again this Saturday, August 29, as they get another opportune chance to get acclimated with their brand new home before the season begins. That christening will take place on September 13, hosting the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. One thing is guaranteed: once the fans are able to attend SoFi Stadium, the memory of that first-time visit will last a lifetime. And they will have Mr. Stan Kroenke to thank for that.