Model center breathes life into Rams, Chargers stadium in Inglewood

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- Stan Kroenke isn't just building a stadium; he is altering an entire sports landscape.

The 70,000-seat, open-air facility that will be shared by the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers in Inglewood, California, by 2020 is merely the centerpiece of a $2.6 billion, 298-acre sports and entertainment district that will be three and a half times the size of Disneyland. It promises to be a year-round hot spot that hosts the world's most important sporting events and quickly becomes one of L.A.'s most iconic venues.

Eighteen months ago, Chris Hibbs, chief revenue officer and general manager for this project, asked himself an important question: "How can I replicate all of that in 11,000 square feet?"

It eventually brought him to this pocket of West Los Angeles, to a 1.3-square-mile neighborhood that experienced a sudden influx of tech companies and is now commonly referred to as Silicon Beach. On the fourth floor of a glass-encased building that belongs to a consumer electronics company sits the premiere center for Kroenke's L.A. Stadium & Entertainment District at Hollywood Park. The center, an interactive showcase of what's to come, launched Tuesday and is now open for those interested in purchasing luxury suites at the new stadium.

The space provides an interactive experience through 52 screens and 107,827,200 pixels of digital real estate.

A "video tunnel" uses 20 screens with a better resolution than an Imax movie to play a 150-second hype video. A 1,200-square-foot acrylic model of the site, separated into three sections, comes to life by pushing any one of 20 buttons. A room called the "Suite Experience" provides a 360-degree showcase of seven suite possibilities with the help of a massive curved screen. Five open-air pods provide details about the district's features nearby. And toward the back is an indoor-outdoor hospitality area featuring a four-box live feed of the active construction site, where pillars have been installed.

Representatives for the International Olympic Committee came by recently, and Hibbs said they were "blown away."

"A lot of oohs and ahhs in a lot of foreign languages," he added. "We've heard a lot of real cool, genuine reaction from a lot of people who have seen a lot of cool stuff."

Hibbs spent the past 10 years as vice president of sales and marketing for the Chicago Bears before Kroenke, the Rams' owner, hired him to spearhead sales for the new stadium and orchestrate what is now called the L.A. Stadium Premiere Center. It took Hibbs a month just to settle on a design firm. He later visited up to 10 premiere centers for other professional stadiums, impressed mainly by those for the Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings and the Sacramento Kings.

Hibbs took a little bit from each, good and bad.

"Especially technology," he said. "That's the one thing that's really different here is that a lot of them are much more static. In fact, every other stadium model that you saw was what you think of -- a handcrafted model, that's much smaller, that's hand-painted, that you can look into. No moving parts, no technology. This is L.A. We're going to be in Silicon Beach. And this building is supposed to be the most high-tech building of all time. You better think of a different way for the model."

That model, 30 by 40 feet, is all white, powered by 12 projectors suspended from the ceiling.

Press one button in the piece that illustrates the stadium's surrounding area, and the space that will hold 300 hotel rooms lights up. Press another, and you'll see the 890,000 square feet of retail space. Or the 2,500 modern residences. Or the 25 acres of public parks. Walk over to the miniature stadium, push a button there, and the 6,000-seat performing arts venue is the focus. Or the oval-shaped, dual-sided Oculus video board that will stretch 120 yards. Or the field, changing from a venue for the Rams and Chargers to one for the Final Four, the College Football Playoff and numerous concerts.

The Rams have already hosted prospective cornerstone sponsors at the facility and still seek a naming rights deal. Now they are beginning to sell 125 of their top-shelf luxury suites, though they will not disclose pricing. Suites hold as many as 30 guests and are purchased for multiple years. They include all Chargers and Rams home games and the right of first refusal for all other events, of which there will be plenty. Hibbs has already seen "a ton of interest" in the suites, even though the stadium was recently delayed by a year and both teams have combined to go 20-44 these last two seasons.

The facility will host the Super Bowl in 2022, then the opening and closing ceremonies for the Summer Olympics in 2028. But it promises to be so much more than a football stadium.

The expectation, Hibbs said, "is that this becomes a global entertainment destination. And that this venue and this whole district becomes an iconic thing in L.A. that you have to go visit."