It was an eerie Wednesday morning on the corner of Kareem Court and Pincay Drive in Inglewood, California. A few cars breezed by and a woman quietly power-walked through her workout in the nearby Forum parking lot, but not much else was going on.
It was as if the football gods were spending their private time gently piecing the Los Angeles Stadium together from above. A rafter here, a section of seats there. Are they partial to the future inhabitants Rams and Chargers? Are they dreading a visit from the Seahawks?
Football will come. The deafening noise of thrilled spectators is on the way, but not yet. For now, you can only stare at what stands partially built in front of you and let your imagination do the rest.
A sentimental feeling set over me as I stood and watched the stadium seemingly come to life in front of me. Construction trucks soon made their way onto the scene and rolled in and out of the site and I wondered if any of those workers knew the history of that spot.
Hollywood Park once thrived there and my wife and her dad used to go to the races on the regular since they lived on nearby Java Street. I went to some races there with Cat about 25 years ago and she reminisced about her times with her dad and how stellar the hot dogs were. Famed writer Charles Bukowski practically lived at the place and Cat said her dad noticed him a few times. What would they think about Hollywood Park no longer existing and pro football coming to town on the exact location that they once spent so much time?
And, oh, the Forum behind me. I haven’t been inside for many years, and those memories came flooding back. Lakers and Kings games with my dad, brother and high school friends and concerts by Billy Idol and Genesis. What a great spot. My dad recalls Slick Watts picking me up to autograph my program, and me or my brother sitting atop the Zamboni machine before a game.
Speaking of concerts, on an early dismissal day from high school, we piled into a friend’s van and drove to Hollywood Park to witness The Police, The Thompson Twins, The Fixx and Berlin live. Not my usual punk-rock scene, but I was on board, especially to watch The Police’s Stewart Copeland rule on the drums.
A $5 billion price tag clings to the 298-acre stadium project, which has a planned 2020 opening date. Along with Rams and Chargers games, the 70,000-seat (expandable up to 100,000) stadium is slated to host Super Bowl LVI in 2022, the College Football Playoff National Championship in 2023 and the opening and closing ceremonies and soccer at the 2028 Summer Olympics.
Bothell’s Johnny Hekker — who punts for the Rams — should already have his space reserved at the new stadium. Perhaps Mount Si’s Jonny Barrett will grace the field one day along with Inglemoor’s Quentin Moore, Redmond’s Jason Medeiros of Eastside Catholic (Air Force Academy commit) and Bellevue’s Drew Fowler — all of whom were recently honored by USA TODAY. How about Mount Si’s Cale Millen, who committed to the University of Oregon, or Juanita’s Salvon Ahmed, who plays for the University of Washington? Cutter Hillock from Issaquah or Mark Mangino from Mercer Island?
The possibilities are endless. Exciting times lie ahead.