ETC Scores Touchdown at SoFi Stadium

Date Posted: 6/14/2022

Any event at Inglewood’s SoFi stadium is likely to be upstaged by the venue itself. Along with the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl, SoFi stadium’s place in Southern California iconography is assured. Site of the Super Bowl LVI (sorry Bengals fans) seen by millions around the world, it is arguably the pinnacle of stadium design. The superlatives are in the numbers: 70,000 seat capacity, 302 FTE roof panels containing 28,000 LED “pucks,” a 360-degree infinity screen, and 25,000 miles of cabling all set in a grade 100 feet below ground level. Passengers flying into LAX can view games or concerts projected on to the 80-million-pixel roof. But no less impressive is the ETC control system that keeps it all running. 

The Body of SoFi

“The end-users’ journey through the stadium had to be considered on both game and non-game days, with attention paid to enhance memorable views and ‘Instagrammable’ moments along the way,” says Stacie Dinwiddy, Associate Principal at KGM Architectural Lighting, who handled the indoor hospitality area lighting. “We found ourselves addressing new and unique challenges as we navigated to complete a project of this scale during an international pandemic and lockdown, for a building and program originally designed for mass gatherings and public displays of face and body paint.” 

To enhance the experience and promote movement around the concourse, KGM worked closely with a custom manufacturer to design a ribbon-like LED feature pendant that could twist and glow like neon to reflect a meandering path throughout the entire concourse. Another integrated installation that was thoroughly engineered is within the entrance corridors leading to the Owner’s Club. The original design was a continuous linear line of light that went up one wall, across the ceiling, and down the opposite wall. “To shake up a popular detail, we opted to offset the lines at the wall to create a more dynamic effect through the corridor and allude to the laces on a football – a theme carried out in many areas on the project,” she added. 

LAM Partners’ James Perry describes the task of lighting the exterior of the massive structure. “The field of play is certainly the primary focus of the project, but the overall stadium was envisioned as a living, organic form that could pulse with activity and motion from the field all the way out to the exterior skin of the building. The lighting design and controls were a part of the story-telling of the architecture and the NFL excitement within.” 

Of the many firsts attributed to this project Perry notes, “The LED media mesh that is draped across the clear membrane roof canopy was a first as far as we know. The entire roof and fifth elevation of the building becomes a large video board. But the interesting design challenge was achieving this for the exterior view of the building without impacting the environment or event within the stadium bowl below. None of that lighting is visible when ‘on’ from within the seating bowl.”

The Brain of SoFi

Providing the often overlooked but critical component of control went to 4Wall Entertainment, who integrated all the ETC control elements which form the backbone of this impressive project. Buddy Pope and Brent Pritchett headed up the team that linked it all together. “Every single light that turns on and off we controlled via Paradigm – restrooms, locker rooms, offices, concourses, exterior lighting, and even the signage a few blocks away are controlled by ETC Paradigm,” says Pope. 

On the entertainment side, Mosaic Show Controller X and an Eos console control the sports lighting and color changing lights throughout the venue. No stranger to huge installations, Pope notes that “a big challenge was the sheer length of data and DMX runs – the equipment list is short but has big numbers.”

To comply with California Title 24 rules, over 1200 Paradigm occupancy sensors are everywhere, but the Paradigm system easily dealt with any customization. “We were able to tweak the Paradigm advanced controls to make overrides,” says Pope. “The lights never go out in the Rams’ locker room during a game, for example.”

Not surprisingly, the sequence of operations for the building was extensive and called out for specific looks. The Paradigm system stores not only game and concert modes building wide, but campus wide. A Mosaic controls all the signage on the campus, color changing and white light controls as well as a retail section that is under construction. Even the landscape lighting has its own distinct presets. 

Not even the restraints of COVID protocols and supply chain holdups during the construction cycle, could hold up the creation of this truly remarkable addition to LA’s sport and cultural life.