Super Bowl LVI is slated to kick off in roughly five weeks from the brand new SoFi Stadium in Southern California, home of the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers.
For the NFL, it’s been a long time coming. The league opened two new west coast venues last season with the Las Vegas Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium also finding it among the NFL’s newest gems.
Unfortunately, none of these three teams were able to welcome fans during the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It cost hundreds of millions in revenue for the teams and the league.
While COVID-19 is currently running roughshod through NFL rosters due to the Omicron variant, it has not impacted fan attendance. For the most part, venues have been filled throughout the season.
However, there’s now some growing concerns that the aforementioned Super Bowl might not be held in Southern California after all.
NFL considering Dallas as backup plan for Super Bowl LVI
“WFAA has confirmed that the NFL is looking into the availability of venues outside of California, including Arlington’s AT&T Stadium, should it need a replacement venue for this year’s Super Bowl,” Mike Leslie reported.
The concern for Roger Goodell and the NFL is that Los Angeles might enact new COVID-19 mandates that would impact fan attendance for the big game.
Remember, Southern California was among the first major metropolitan areas in the United States to create mitigation standards as a way to curve the spread of COVID-19 back in the spring of 2020. Cases are also jumping big time in the region.
Los Angeles County reported 21,790 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday alone, the fourth time in five days that the county has had cases top 20,000. That’s up from just 1,600 new cases a month ago (December 5).
It must also be noted that the state of Texas has been among those with the least mitigation standards in the United States since the start of the pandemic. That includes the Dallas Cowboys welcoming in full crowds at points during the 2020 season when SoFi Stadium itself was empty.
The larger question here as it relates to Super Bowl LVI and the NFL is planning. Just how many contingencies can the league have in place without it impacting the league’s financial bottom line? Would Los Angeles even consider putting in mitigation standards, either?
Back in February of 2020, Miami saw an economic impact of $570 million by hosting Super Bowl 54 between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. That didn’t come close to being the case this past February in Tampa Bay with capacity limited to a mere 22,000 fans.
The good news here (on many fronts) is that Los Angeles is not seeing a major uptick in COVID-related hospitilizations or deaths from the increase in cases. That has to do with Omicron bringing milder symptoms than previous iterations of the virus and the high number of citizens in Southern California fully vaccinated from COVID.
At the very least, the NFL is preparing for a backup plan should things continue to spiral out of control from a pandemic perspective in Los Angeles.