LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Calif. — Los Angeles County's public health director and Board of Supervisors chair both insisted Thursday the Super Bowl will go forward as planned at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood next month, despite concerns about surging COVID-19 infections that have delayed various Hollywood awards shows and impacted some indoor sporting events.
"It will be challenging if the surge continues into February, but I do think we're working closely with both the NFL and SoFi Stadium to have a wonderful Super Bowl here with the appropriate safety precautions that will keep fans safe and our community safe," Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said during a media videoconference. "... I feel really confident the event will happen here in L.A. There's no indication that it won't, and we'll work really closely to enhance safety if, again, we're still in the middle of a horrific surge.
"My hope is that by the time we get to February we're on the downside of seeing this massive amount of community transmission," she said.
With California seeing a surge in new Omicron cases, there is concern that Super Bowl 56 slated for SoFi Stadium on Feb. 13 would move out of state in the event the Covid restrictions cause another lockdown.
The NFL picked AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas as a backup for the big game, and the league released a statement downplaying the likelihood of the move, saying, "as part of our standard contingency planning process that we conduct for all regular and postseason games, we have contacted several clubs to inquire about stadium availability in the event we cannot play the Super Bowl as scheduled due to weather-related issues or unforeseen circumstances.”
The NFL says its "planning process for the Super Bowl in Los Angeles is ahead of schedule and we look forward to hosting it there."
"It tells you something about the metroplex the fact that they would look to Dallas,” said Mike Davis, professor at SMU Cox School of Business.
Dallas fans and economists are chomping at the bit to get the game moved there, but LA's Dr. Barbara Ferrer says not so fast even as Los Angeles County saw a record jump in Covid cases, topping 37,000 today. Dr. Ferrer says Sofi stadium is one of the leaders in the country for providing safety solutions in pandemic.
Both Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state's health director say there are no plans for any new lockdowns that would force the game out of the state.
Wherever the Super Bowl is, ticket prices are already $5,000 for the cheap seats, so staying at home to watch the game will be a safe way to do it.
Questions began surfacing about the fate of the Inglewood Super Bowl in light of the surging number of COVID cases in the region. On Wednesday, the Grammy Awards ceremony set for Jan. 31 was indefinitely postponed. The Critics Choice Awards were previously put on hold, and both USC and UCLA have announced restricted attendance at indoor sporting events.
Ferrer noted that the Grammy Awards -- and other similar events -- are held indoors, and a postponement was a reasonable step in light of the increased risk of disease transmission.
The NFL confirmed Wednesday that it has been vetting potential alternative Super Bowl sites, with AT&T Stadium in Texas reported to be a prime contender, but a spokesman for the league said the NFL puts contingency plans in place every year just in case circumstances force a relocation. The spokesman insisted there are no immediate plans to relocate this year's Feb. 13 game out of Inglewood.
County Supervisor Holly Mitchell told reporters there is no logic in moving the game.
"This is an international pandemic. I'm not sure why it would make more sense to have it in Texas," she said.
But Mitchell said holding the event safety will be dependent on the people attending it.
"My plea is to all of those -- local and those who will travel to Inglewood to SoFi Stadium for the Super Bowl -- that you follow our health orders and that you mask," she said. "I would encourage people to get vaccinated and boosted before you come.
"We shouldn't assume that individual decisions don't have the greatest impact in the spread of this virus," she said. "... It's up to the individual to choose to stay masked through the entire game to keep themselves safe and everyone else."
WATCH RELATED: California extends indoor mask mandate until Feb. 15