Inglewood stadium opening delayed by one year due to heavy rain

- The opening of the $2.6 billion stadium that will house the Rams and Chargers in Inglewood has been delayed by one year, due largely to unusually heavy winter rainfall that hampered construction, officials announced Thursday.

The stadium is now scheduled to be open for the 2020 NFL season.

``Despite bringing drought relief to the region, the rain fell during the mass excavation period of construction when no other work could proceed in wet conditions,'' according to a statement issued by the Rams. ``As a result, we experienced significant delays and lost the better part of two months from early January into the beginning of March.''

A groundbreaking ceremony for the project was held in November, and crews have already excavated an estimated 6 million cubic yards of dirt.

According to the Rams and Chargers, moving back the opening date to 2020 will provide ``flexibility'' to accommodate any additional delays.

As a result of the delay, the Rams will continue playing at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the Chargers will remain at StubHub Center in Carson through the 2019 NFL season.

``Our focus is always on the fan experience,'' said A.G. Spanos, president of business operations for the Chargers. ``Our future home will be the best stadium in the NFL and deliver a transformational experience for our

Chargers fans. If getting it right means pushing back the completion date, then I think the extra year is well worth it.'' Spanos noted that construction ``is our family business,'' and such challenges can occur with ``a project of this magnitude.''

The stadium, with an estimated capacity of about 70,000, is expected to include 275 luxury suites, more than 16,000 premium seats and have nearly 3 million square feet of usable space. The overall project has a price tag estimated at about $2.6 billion.

According to contractors, the stadium construction will provide more than 3,500 on-site construction jobs in Inglewood and more than 10,000 jobs by the time it is completed.

The stadium is expected to be the centerpiece of an entertainment and commercial center spanning roughly 300 acres. The district is envisioned to include a roughly 6,000-seat arena, more than 1.5 million square feet of retail and office space, 2,500 residential units and possibly a 300-room hotel, along with 25 acres of parks and open space.

The stadium has already been named the host of the 2021 Super Bowl, however, the selection may have to be reviewed by league owners in light of the construction delay. Brian McCarthy, vice president of communications for the NFL, said the league has a rule requiring a stadium to be open for at least two regular seasons before it can host a Super Bowl.

``It's something the ownership would need to consider,'' McCarthy told City News Service. ``That's the current rule. (It) would need a waiver.''

McCarthy noted there is a precedent for owners waiving rules for hosting a Super Bowl. League owners issued a waiver allowing the 2014 Super Bowl to be played in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey -- an open-air venue in a cold-weather city. Super Bowls are usually restricted to warm- weather cities, or enclosed stadiums in cold-weather cities.

The Inglewood stadium is also a lynchpin in Los Angeles' bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. The stadium is expected to co-host the opening and closing ceremonies if the Southland is awarded the Games.

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