Even with COVID-19, sports stadium construction goes on

Construction, as of late February, at SoFi Stadium.


INGLEWOOD, Calif. — They arrived before dawn on Monday.

Hundreds of construction workers got out of their trucks and cars, put on their white hardhats and reflective orange and yellow vests and headed for work at the NFL stadium being built for the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers — on a day unlike any yet.

On Sunday, the company overseeing construction of the 70,000-seat SoFi Stadium confirmed a trade worker at the site had tested positive for COVID-19.

Less than 24 hours later, Tommy Cisneros, a painter, stood with a co-worker in a parking lot filling up next to the stadium.

“Everybody’s kind of spooked, on edge,’’ Cisneros, 60, told USA TODAY. “You know everybody’s scared about catching it. There must be a lot of pressure to get this (stadium) finished.’’

From the postponement of the Olympics to the NBA suspending its season to the cancellation of the college basketball tournaments, the sports world has been brought to a virtual halt by the coronavirus pandemic. But the construction of sports facilities continues, and it’s putting a spotlight on the tension between economic pressures and safety concerns.

In states that have closed most businesses, the construction of sports facilities is subject to the same test as other commerce: Is the project “essential”? Yet it’s not clear why some projects have been halted as nonessential while others have been deemed essential and allowed to go forward. 

Construction, as of late February, at SoFi Stadium.

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Many contractors also try to observe standard COVID-19 safety protocol, such as staying six feet apart, but the standards aren’t always strictly enforced.

Last week, the companies overseeing construction of the Raiders’ new NFL stadium in Las Vegas and the Texas Rangers’ new Major League Baseball stadium in Arlington, Texas, each disclosed that a worker at their respective sites had tested positive for COVID-19.


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