Inglewood stadium developers hope suites will transform NFL game day experience
The $2.6-billion stadium NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is fond of describing as “transformational” is slowly rising from a vast dust-colored pit in Inglewood.
Dozens of giant pillars that will support the sail-shaped structure dwarf an army of excavators, concrete mixers, cranes, dump trucks, water tankers, backhoes, pickups and ant-like workers in white hard hats.
The transformation, though, extends beyond Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s ambitious plan to make the stadium the centerpiece of a 298-acre sports and entertainment district. Developers believe the future home of the Rams and Chargers will reinvent game days for fans in a region that hasn’t seen a large football-focused stadium built since the 1920s.
Though the venue won’t open until 2020, the first examples of the revamped approach to experiencing football and other events went on sale earlier this month. They are 125 suites — the project will include more than 260 technology-packed suites across seven categories — with access to all Rams and Chargers games.
Kevin Demoff, the chief operating officer for the Rams, said developers wanted to create a stadium that’s uniquely Los Angeles and, among other things, redefines the premium experience in the country’s second-largest market.
“We tried to take how people view games at home and translate that into the suite experience, rather than use the designs that have existed in other buildings,” he said.
That means the 24 top-tier owners’ suites include the Super Bowl in 2022 plus all other events at the stadium — the Final Four and a College Football Playoff game could eventually be among them — except the Olympics in 2028 and potential World Cup matches. The suite holders park underneath the stadium and can access the exclusive Owners Club near the two dozen suites that stretch from goal line to goal line. The other two types currently available, Executive Suites and Patio Suites, also include private clubs.
The clubs helped address a conundrum for designers. They wanted to create a counterpart to iconic L.A. see-and-be-seen spots — courtside seats at Lakers games and behind home plate at Dodger Stadium — in an enormous venue that will hold about 70,000 people.
“It’s one of the key drivers in these suite experiences,” Demoff said of the clubs.
Most of the suites use a simple, modern design built around an uncluttered center island. It’s inspired by the idea of people gathering in a kitchen to watch a game at home. Walls are covered with televisions that can be tuned to different games. There are clear views of the oculus, the 120-yard video board high above the field. In keeping with the stadium’s indoor-outdoor theme — the sides of the roof are open to the elements — suites flow unobstructed to stadium-style seating outside.
Suite owners can access them on days without events to hold conferences or meetings.
“We’re all about the fan experience,” said A.G. Spanos, president of business operations for the Chargers. “The entire stadium design is in line with our values, everything from bringing the authentic L.A. culture and vibe to a place with a very slick and modern design.”
Not long after announcing their relocation from San Diego in January, Chargers representatives met with stadium architect HKS to contribute their ideas.
Prices aren’t being made public for the suites. But Scott Spencer, president of the Suite Experience Group, a San Francisco-based suite reseller, estimates the most sought-after suites including both teams could sell for $1 million a year. Lesser suites for both teams might sell for $300,000 to $600,000 -- or more.
Those prices would be in line with high-end suites at MetLife Stadium, the only other NFL venue used by two teams, and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, which opened in 2014.
“I believe the Inglewood stadium will be extremely aggressive in their price targets to capture the maximum possible value from suite leases, both in terms of price per year and length of the lease,” said Spencer, noting the key role suite proceeds will play in financing the building’s construction.
As part of the complex deal for the Chargers to use the stadium for $1 a year, each team keeps about 18% of revenue from sales of the joint-use suites. The remainder goes to a Kroekne-controlled company, Stadco L.A. LLC, to help finance the project.
The teams have an option to sell an additional 40 joint-use suites. The remaining 100 or so suites will be sold by each team.
Each of the variety of suites — including the four types that will be sold at a later date — are unique enough that virtual tours of them at the 20,000-square-foot premiere center in Playa Vista used to woo would-be buyers feels like hopping between different stadiums.
Some suites will be on the field level, providing an up-close view. A three-level Stage Suite will be in a corner of each end zone. They’re designed for a studio or network to host a slew of guests with increasing levels of exclusivity on each level.
On the opposite side of the approach are four-person Perch Suites for people who might find a regular suite too large or expensive. The customer whom designers pictured might play fantasy football and watch several games at the same time with a small group of friends at a bar or apartment.
“It gets back to Stan’s original vision: It has to be uniquely Los Angeles and it has to offer a premium experience to every level of fan,” Demoff said. “The [Perch Suites] have high-level televisions and a great view of the field so you’re basically at the control center of the NFL fantasy experience.”
But the process is just beginning, as the stadium slowly takes shape in the 80-foot bowl it’s to be sunk into. And, for now, the suites remained confined to brightly colored renderings, construction plans and virtual tours.
“This is going to be a must-have entertainment venue,” Demoff said.
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