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Super Bowl LVI: Inglewood—Fantasy vs. Reality

by Kimberli Alisa Wong 3 months ago in opinion · updated 3 months ago

Super Bowl LVI is in my neck of the woods. But it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Rams vs. Bengals

As someone doesn’t watch American football regularly, but almost always catches the occasional playoff game and usually the Super Bowl, I was pretty excited to learn that Super Bowl LVI would be coming to the newly built SoFi stadium in Inglewood. I’ve always wanted to attend the Super Bowl at least once out of sheer curiosity. Plus, it looks fun! The biggest party of the year, right?

Superficial research led me to know that Super Bowl tickets usually cost in the thousands of dollars, so I knew if I wanted to ever attend the game I would have to plan way in advance, set aside some money, and make a trip of it.

Unfortunately—ambivalent fan that I am—I didn’t learn that the Super Bowl would be in Inglewood until sometime mid-January. No game for me this year, but I figured it would be a fun time nevertheless with all the events and parties leading up to the big game. I was stoked. The Super Bowl would be, for the first time in my lifetime, in my city. Or, just south of it.

I made a point to google ”Super Bowl parties”, “Super Bowl events in L.A.” and other various terms the weekend before to see what was happening. I don’t know what I was expecting. But definitely what I found didn’t meet any expectation I might have had.

To start, there wasn’t a whole lot going on. This could have been, in part, due to the pandemic. I haven’t been to previous Super Bowls, so I wouldn’t know that. Media outlets like The Los Angeles Times, Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter had lists of various events happening around L.A. the week prior to February 13th. There was Shaq’s Fun House, a night of food, carnival rides, and other revelrire for a reasonable price starting at $249.99. Then there was the Super Bowl Experience presented by Lowe’s, a NFL interactive football theme park with tickets starting at $40. That had football throws, a history of the NFL and NFL memorabilia, including a photo op with the famed Lombardi trophy. Lastly, there was a series of concerts at Crypto.com Arena (formerly Staples Center), with Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton, Greenday, and others, all with reasonably priced tickets (starting under $200).

But what about what everyone talks about, the famed Super Bowl parties? To my disappointment, everything that I was interested in was either super expensive or invite-only. Tickets for the Taste of the NFL, a charity event to raise money to aid GENYOUth and student hunger, started at $1000. Guy Fieri’s The Player’s Super Bowl Tailgate had tickets starting at $875. Granted, that included all food and an open bar, but still. And parties like REVOLVE’S two day Homecoming, headlined by Justin Bieber and Drake, or Michael Rubin’s Fanatics party, were super exclusive and invite-only.

I can understand some VIP parties—not everyone needs to be invited to everything. What I felt, though, being here during this memorable event, is that the majority of special events were catered towards the rich and famous. And that shouldn’t be the case. The NFL is supported by the fans. Without the fans, American football wouldn’t exist. And because of that, I think the NFL should curate some special, “celebrity caliber” events that are open to the entire public. They don’t have to be free. But reasonably priced.

Instead, there were things like “makeup tailgates” at Westfield Century City. Not that there is anything wrong with that—who doesn’t love a good free makeover? But there should be something more, too.

I didn’t attend the free 3-day festival, Taste of Inglewood. That looked cool. It was a street festival with local vendors and music. I can’t imagine it being that much different, though, from any other well-done street festival. I did go to the one in Santa Monica, and it was so gimmicky. The opposite of cool. There were a few booths, giving out trinkets like free Pringles and shots of zero-sugar hard seltzer. I got a free, cheap, L.A. Rams towel. Compared to the lavish, exclusive events hosted all over Beverly Hills and Downtown, it almost seemed insulting.

The Santa Monica “Tailgate Experience” where I received free electrolytes and a can of Pringles

On top of all of this, the Super Bowl is being hosted in Inglewood, a well-known middle to lower class city. And yet, all the really cool events clearly catered to an upper class demographic. I was expecting the Super Bowl coming to Inglewood and by association Los Angeles to be about showing the people of these cities a good time. Instead, it’s been about showing celebrities, influencers, and the wealthy a good time. Who already get to go to everything all the time, everywhere.

There was no united plan for the city, no city celebration. And if there was, it was just impossible to find out about.

This is definitely not what I imagined having the Super Bowl in my city would be like. Granted, this is my first time, so maybe I was just bad at playing detective. But I would think that the Super Bowl would be about everyone, least of all the fans. And fans come from all classes, and all backgrounds.

I am walking away with the distinct feeling that the Super Bowl is about one thing, above all else: money. And that’s something I wouldn’t have necessarily known had I not been here, seeing it first hand.

They can say that the Super Bowl recently is about showing unity and a lack of division, but until the game and celebrations are equally accessible to everyone, and created for everyone, equally, it’s all just talk.

Parking alone at SoFi stadium is up in the several thousands. Imagine what kind of investment it would be, were that money redirected into helping the community. Until we see tangible results, we can only assume it is lining the pockets of investors.

That should say everything.

opinion

About the author

Kimberli Alisa Wong

poet. writer. actor. filmmaker.

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