By Jack Savage
INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Not even 48 hours after the Super Bowl had ended, the glitz and glamor of the circus event was long gone. The streets were barren, littered only with trash, giving off an eerily ghost town vibe to it. For a week, Inglewood, California, was the epicenter of the sports world, with SoFi Stadium shining bright in the spotlight. The NFL and city pulled out all the bells and whistles for Super Bowl Sunday, lining the streets and town with pop-up shops, new signage and constant trash crews keeping it spotless.
From the outside looking in, it seems any city hosting the Super Bowl would be fortunate, giving a boost to its economy and creating hundreds of jobs for the community. However, when looking deeper and listening to what Inglewood residents had to say about the impact of this year’s game and the overall impact of SoFi Stadium being built in their neighborhood, it paints a much different picture.
“To be honest, well, I wasn’t really thinking about the game that much,” said Rick Foard, a member of the Lennox-Inglewood Tenants Union. “I was thinking more about the long-term negative effect that the stadium has on the community.
“For example, the average rent in Inglewood went up from $1,100 in January 2016, when the NFL approved the move from St. Louis to LA for the Rams, to $1,715 today, according to Zumper. Yeah, it’s true that the value of homes also went up, but you don’t realize that if you’re not a homeowner. Bottom line is that the tenants in the community have been ravaged. There is rent control now, but it took four years to get it in.”
Foard rolled his eyes when asked if he would like to see the Super Bowl be held at SoFi again.
“No,” he said. “It’s just a spectacle, with a lot of wealth.”
Foard wasn’t the only one to share negative sentiments on the effects SoFi has had on the Inglewood community. Juan Estrada, a 16-year resident of the neighborhood, took aim at the NFL and the city, claiming they just “put lipstick on a pig,” during the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.
“Don’t be fooled,” Estrada said. “Inglewood is a very poor neighborhood. Leading up to the Super Bowl, they obviously wanted to spruce it up, so there was a lot of construction going on everywhere. Things were going up, like signs and shops, and they were making Inglewood seem like something it isn’t.
“For me personally, I would consider SoFi being built as a negative because I’ve had a lot of friends who had to move out to either Arizona or Victorville, because they simply couldn’t afford to live here anymore. Seeing the people you grew up with in this community move out really sucks.”
The side effects have had serious consequences on the community, but even in the short term, specifically on the day of the Super Bowl, some residents didn’t want to have anything to do with the game.
“I wanted to stay away from my neighborhood the day of the Super Bowl,” said Stella Diaz, who lives directly across from the stadium. “I knew the traffic was going to be terrible, and the streets weren’t exactly equipped enough to handle all that. The space was so limited we even had people who were selling parking spaces along our streets, ranging from $250-$300. It was crazy, and not something I wanted to be a part of.”
While the sun shined on SoFi Stadium during Super Bowl week, the residents could only shake their heads. The temporary Band-Aid was slapped on the neighborhood while the stars strolled through, but Foard saw right through it.
“There are some jobs that have come out of it, but in terms of how well-paying and long-lasting, we’ll see,” Foard said, while shaking his head. “Now, are there people who are excited about it? Sure. There are business owners who are excited about it, but there are also business owners who had to sell their establishments because they couldn’t make money. And don’t even get me started on the traffic, it’s horrendous.”
“Hand-selected businesses, presumably attached to the mayor, have seen some business from the NFL coming to town,” said Melissa Hébert, editor and founder of 2UrbanGirls, a small business based out of Inglewood. “However, countless residents have been displaced due to the lack of rent control, which was only implemented after a push by the community.”
The impact the Super Bowl has on a city is generally positive, as civic boosters estimate that impact being anywhere from $300 million to $400 million. However, how much of that does the Inglewood community see? The ones who really need it and can benefit from it have either moved away as Estrada alluded to, or, as Foard suggested, will just be ignored in favor of the wealthier residents, as the gentrification of Inglewood continues.