I’m not a football fan, but when a buddy of mine offered me a free ticket to see the Rams play the Buccaneers (with Tom Brady) at the brand new Sofi Stadium, I jumped at the chance! I had been to many baseball games at Dodgers Stadium and Angels Stadium, but never to an NFL football game!
While we had a great time, I’ll say it’s probably not a good place to bring a date unless you’re both huge football fans. At the end of this article, I have an alternative that I think is a much better date idea still involving the beautiful Sofi Stadium.
Here is the Good and the Bad that I experienced at Sofi Stadium:
1. The Stadium
Sofi Stadium is exactly what people say; it’s huge, it’s majestic, it’s impressively beautiful. It really is a sight to behold as you walk up to it and ascend its stairs. The structure is pretty impressive.
2. The Sound
We got there right as they were announcing the players and the crowd noise was insane. I mean, this place made Dodgers Stadium seem like a library in comparison. I was worried that my ears would be ringing after three hours of this.
Apparently, someone else who was there that day agreed with me:
“It’s a very loud stadium. Very loud. One of the louder ones we’ve been in.”– Tom Brady, Quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Los Angeles Times September 27, 2021)
On top of that is the 1.3 million-Watt sound system. My buddy and I wondered if rock concerts even needed to bring their own P.A. systems. They could just use the house sound system. The bass certainly was sufficient.
For the musical entertainment during our Rams game, they had a DJ/MC, heavy metal guitarist, and a full Mariachi band, with a rap artist for the halftime entertainment. Dodgers Stadium, in contrast, has a dude playing the organ. Quaint.
3. The Scoreboard
The next thing that hit me was the gigantic circular scoreboard that I had read about. It’s the largest video display of any sports stadium, with 80 million pixels and weighing 2.2 million pounds. Because of its unique circular design, it’s practically right in front of you if you’re in the upper seats.
I had to stop myself from watching the game on the scoreboard instead of watching the real game below me.
4. The View
Even though we had “nosebleed” seats, we had a clear view of the field and could easily follow the action.
All of these factors come together to make Sofi a great place to watch a football game. But would I bring a date here? Let’s talk about some of the bad things about Sofi Stadium.
1. The Parking
By all accounts, the parking situation at Sofi during a football game is a disaster. It’s insanely expensive, and you’ll be in a traffic jam that starts at the Manchester exit of the 405 and doesn’t let up until you’ve parked. Purchasing more expensive parking doesn’t mitigate the problem. Taking an Uber doesn’t help much, and there’s no train that goes to the stadium. Reviewers online complained of not enough people directing traffic and general chaos.
Why there isn’t a Disneyland-style multilevel parking garage on-site is beyond me.
We originally were going to park at a paid parking lot about a half-mile from the stadium and walk. When we got there, we found out it was reservation-only.
The Free Parking Hack that We Accidentally Discovered
What we did, which turned out to be completely FREE (on Sundays) and just as good, was park on a tiny street called Queen St. Between N. Locust St. and N. Market St. There was a shuttle from there to the stadium, but they were charging $19 roundtrip. We decided that was insane to pay that much for a half-mile ride, so we walked, which actually might have been quicker than taking the bus which had to go through the traffic jam. I didn’t mind getting a bit of exercise either.
Also, be aware that bags are generally prohibited unless they are clear. See Sofi’s policies to avoid having to walk back to your car.
So, here’s the first reason why bringing a date to a football game at Sofi might be a bad idea. You’ll either get stuck in crippling traffic (hope you have lots of stories to entertain your companion), or you’ll end up walking at least half a mile from where you park. Not so romantic either way.
2. The Food
When I go to a ball game, I see that as my rare opportunity to enjoy hot dogs, nachos, fries, and whatever other greasy junk food they have. I’m definitely not looking for a culinary masterpiece; my standards are pretty low.
But even by that low bar, the selection of food at Sofi was dismal. Almost all of the reviewers agree about the bad food at Sofi.
Supposedly, there are four types of food vendors at the stadium, but when we went, it seemed like only the Mexican one, Olvera Street, was in operation. So right off the bat, the food choices were slim. The choices were hot dog, burrito (beef, chicken, or bean and cheese), nachos, or Mexican shrimp cocktail.
With Sofi’s reputation on food, there was no way I was going to touch shrimp cocktail. I love hot dogs, but when I saw a neighbor’s shriveled fried dog, even that looked unappetizing. Adding insult to injury, I saw tons of people coming to the cashiers complaining that the condiments had run out. A shriveled hot dog with no condiments?? No thanks.
So, by process of elimination, I had to go with the chicken burrito, even though when we asked someone how hers was, she gave a thumbs down. The good part was that the burrito was freshly made and warm, and the beans and cheese were good. There wasn’t enough chicken though, and worst of all, no salsa or pico de gallo to speak of. If I didn’t have the jalapenos that came with my nachos with it, it would have been very bland. The nachos were okay but I wished I had more jalapenos to go with them (my fault since I had eaten them with the burrito). Draft beer started at $15.
On top of everything else, the lines for food were very long, probably because so many of the other food vendors were not operational.
So my food experience was even worse than that of most reviewers due to the dismal selection that Sunday. Perhaps by the time you read this the food situation will have improved.
3. The Trash Talk
Let me say that from what I witnessed, the crowd was rowdy but good-natured at heart. I even saw a woman offer to take the trash of someone sitting in her row as she was leaving to use the restroom.
But, football crowds can talk a lot of profanity-laden trash, and that’s no different at Sofi. There was a group of African American Rams fans who started swearing at a group of Latino Buccaneers fans. I thought there was going to be a fight, but thankfully they ended up laughing and hugging it out.
So, all was well, but the profanity and trash-talking might be a turnoff on a date.
4. The Sound
I mentioned the high-volume sound as a “pro” but it’s also a “con”. The crowd noise was so loud that it was impossible to hear each other most of the time. So, don’t go expecting a lot of quality conversation.
5. Lack of Vaccination Checking and Low Mask Usage
As I write this, masks are required at all sporting events in Los Angeles. In spite of this, I’d say fewer than one-quarter of the people inside were wearing masks (maybe this is “pro” and not a “con” for some people).
Ironically, while I wore my mask for nearly the whole time, a guard told me to put it back on when we were about 20 feet from the exit as we were leaving, for what that’s worth…
No one checked for vaccination status at any time.
Although my buddy and I had a great time there, the bad logistics (parking), bad food, rowdy crowds, and noise-so-loud-you-have-trouble-hearing-each-other, make a football game at Sofi Stadium a bad date idea unless you both are big football fans and know what you’re getting info.
What I Recommend Instead
If you’re a football fan and want to experience the spectacle of Sofi Stadium with someone who isn’t the biggest football fan, I would recommend going on a tour of the stadium! Hear me out here.
For $30 per person, you get a 60-minute tour and you get to do a tunnel run into the field. On the days before game day, you also get an on-field photo opportunity for $39. So you get to see the amazing stadium and even get down to field level. Afterward, you can take your date to get a decent meal somewhere OFF the property. Plus, no parking headaches!
Sure, for a real football fan, a tour is not a substitute for watching a real game. But, if you want to bring someone who is not a fan, it might be a good way to share your love of football with them that they can enjoy too.