Super Bowl LVI has come and gone.
But while the Rams clinched the Lombardi Trophy for the NFL season, Inglewood’s celebratory and seemingly seamless moment in the spotlight might only serve as a national launch — with the city of South Bay cementing its new image as Los Angeles’ next big entertainment hub.
“It was spotless,” Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts said in an interview last week. “There were no accidents. There were no crimes. The fan experience was off the charts.”
The big game brought more than 70,000 visitors to the city, and Butts said he’s sure most “will come back to eat and shop at the places they discovered here,” noting that the visitors of the game would have created a “bonanza”. for local businesses around the SoFi Stadium.
And Inglewood itself, thanks to a quirk in the sporting calendar, was also known around the world.
For the first time, the Winter Olympics and the NFL’s title event overlapped. NBC Sports host Mike Tirico was the official studio host of both events, although he did not travel to China. In the week leading up to the big game in Inglewood, whenever fans tuned in to the Olympics coverage, Tirico would often be seen standing outside SoFi Stadium – in Super Bowl decor.
While it’s a little early to know how much Inglewood and the region have benefited economically from the Super Bowl — let alone how the city’s television exposure will benefit the city — previous estimates have pointed to staggering dollar numbers.
According to research firm Micronomics Economic Research and Consulting, Inglewood alone has generated $52 million in economic gains and $1.8 million in tax revenue as a result of the game. Micronomics estimated that LA County would win between $234 million and $477 million from the game, in which the hometown Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals.
But this is only the beginning.
Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium will host next year’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game and WrestleMania, is a candidate to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup Championship Game and will serve as the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2028 Olympic Games. A series of concerts will almost certainly keep the venue busy in between.
“Super Bowl LVI is effectively the first in a domino effect of subsequent major events at Inglewood,” the Micronomics report said. “Any major event in Inglewood will attract thousands of out-of-towners whose spending goes into Inglewood’s economy.”
But first, Inglewood had to be a successful host for the Super Bowl.
And that was it, to all appearances. The stadium looked beautiful on TV. There have been no reports of major problems, inside or outside of SoFi, other than people not wearing masks during the game – but that’s a Department of Health issue, not an Inglewood issue. And the fans themselves praised the experience.
Charlie Landis, a Bengals fan, was one of those out-of-towns that Inglewood wowed last week.
The experience was generally seamless, he said: Landis and his wife drove from El Segundo to the game, got to the stadium within an hour and found themselves enjoying the game pretty quickly – despite an end result Landis didn’t particularly like.
The only hiccup, Landis said, happened towards the end of the night. The couple’s first shuttle home broke down.
They were quickly rushed to another just for that shuttle, Landis said, only to get caught in a crowd of about 50 to 60 celebratory Rams fans – who lunged at the shuttle’s windshield in their cheering, surrounding it on all sides and banged on the windows and shook it back and forth.
Landis isn’t exactly sure how it ended – he suspected the driver had given the shuttle a little gas to shake off the revelers – but soon he and his wife were back home in a little under two hours.
“It ended up being a really great experience,” Landis said, “despite those four minutes of fear.”
And Landis’ sentiment, shared by so many other first-time visitors to Inglewood, is exactly what the city has planned, Butts said.
“Now the big question was, can we handle the Super Bowl?” Butts said. “Our execution at the Super Bowl was flawless. And so the brand[of the city]surpasses what it was in the days of the Lakers and the Kings that were here.”
Inglewood has firmly established itself as a staple of global entertainment and sports, Butts said, even as the city’s metamorphosis continues.
Inglewood is in the midst of an unprecedented development boom. It’s necessary work as the city prepares to host hundreds of thousands of tourists over the next decade.
And it all started with the revival of the forum, Butts said.
“The Inglewood brand has changed incrementally over the past seven years since we reopened the forum,” he said. “And people said nobody was coming back because of the Inglewood brand: crime, poverty and gangs.”
However, within a year of reopening, the Forum became California’s No. 1 concert venue and the second largest nationwide for booked events, Butts said.
“So that started the development of our brand,” he said.
Then the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles moved from Marina Del Rey to Inglewood in 2019.
Not far away, the lavish new complex opened in 2020 to house the $5 billion SoFi Stadium on the former site of the Hollywood Park racetrack.
The 6,000-seat YouTube Theater also opened late last year. The theater sits at the southern tip of the expansive rooftop canopy that also covers SoFi and American Airlines’ open-air plaza. The venue hosts concerts, award shows, comedy sets, eSports competitions, community activities and conferences.
Nicknamed the “city within a city,” Hollywood Park is undergoing its own transformation. The nearly 300-acre property is expected to include up to 890,000 square feet of retail district, a 300-room hotel and up to 2,500 new homes by 2025.
In September, the Los Angeles Clippers broke ground on their new $1 billion arena, the Intuit Dome, on the corner of Century Boulevard and Prairie Avenue.
The next month, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra opened the doors of its Judith and Thomas L. Beckman YOLA Center in Inglewood. This complex is the first permanent musical practice and performance venue dedicated to the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles.
Elsewhere in Inglewood, a number of other development projects are underway, ranging from hotels to a potential people carrier, which should be ready in time for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics. The continued growth of Inglewood as a whole is a must not only for the city’s ambitions, but also for incoming tourists who prefer to stay in town rather than hit the freeways of Southern California – in search of the Downtown LA, Hollywood or other iconic locations.
“Inglewood is a worthy destination,” said Butts at the opening of the YOLA center in October. “I never thought this would be the cultural center of the great city of Inglewood.”
But Inglewood’s redevelopment has drawn its fair share of criticism, despite its potential ability to breathe life into some of the city’s smaller businesses.
The Uplift Inglewood Coalition, an affordable housing group, filed a lawsuit against the city in 2018 for using a significant area to acquire land for Clippers Stadium — though the group’s appeal was later denied.
Sara Santos, an Inglewood resident and a supporter of the lawsuit, said her rent had already been increased by $300 by the time the Clippers deal closed.
“For so many years, Inglewood was an affordable place to call home,” Santos said in a statement when the lawsuit was first filed. “But now it seems like city leaders have been seduced by outside billionaires and forgotten the common folk who are Inglewood’s true champions.”
In fact, the new developments have sent Inglewood’s housing market skyrocketing.
Since 2015, Inglewood’s median home price has increased 88% — from about $382,395 to $719,680 in 2021 — according to CoreLogic housing data reported by NBC.
That price far exceeds Inglewood’s median income, which the US Census Bureau estimates is around $54,400 for 2021.
However, the ongoing change in the city cannot be stopped.
And if Super Bowl LVI has anything to do with it, Butts — and everyone else who’s been pushing the current development boom for years — have reason to be gushing about Inglewood’s future.
“The only thing that changes at Inglewood,” Butts said, “is everything.”