The 2019 Los Angeles Rams draft class signed their first NFL contracts on Friday morning and then the marathon of firsts continued down the 405 through L.A. The full group of 29 rookies swiftly boarded a bus and set out for an early look at Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park.
The field trip of sorts started with a brief presentation on the Inglewood site, now 13 months from completion. Rams Chief Operating Officer & Executive Vice President of Football Operations Kevin Demoff greeted the group, who sat adjusting their custom construction helmets, decorated with swirling horn decals.
"What do you think?" Demoff said, turning his attention to the players gleaming after a short promotional video and slideshow with renderings of the 3.2-million square foot stadium — the only one of its kind in professional football.
"Wild!" One player's reaction could be heard above the rest.
And then came the chance to see the 70,000-seat stadium — expandable up to 100,000 — up close. The rookies embarked on an hour-long tour that was filled with photo ops, plenty of questions, and even a FaceTime call to share the moment with a friend.
"I've dreamt of the moment coming out of here on gameday my whole life," safety Taylor Rapp said, standing in what will one day be the Los Angeles Rams home locker room. For now, the soon-to-be state-of-the-art facility sitting ground level at the 50-yard line is mostly metal beams and concrete.
"Unreal," offensive lineman David Edwards said, looking out at the stadium bowl's developing tiers, suite levels, and machinery-filled field.
Just over a calendar year from completion, the site echoed and buzzed with sounds of constant construction. The day was made extra memorable thanks to a handful of construction workers who joined the Rams on their premier tour of the team's future home, many of them from organizations Second Call and ARC — programs designed for formerly incarcerated individuals who turned to work at the Inglewood stadium for an opportunity. Members from each group were happy to share their own stories of new beginnings with the professional football hopefuls.
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"The commitment to building a world-class stadium and the commitment to the community is just really cool," Edwards continued, before marveling once again at the scale of the project.
"This is like the craziest thing I've ever seen."
Rookie offensive lineman Bobby Evans and running back Darrell Henderson Jr. are already looking forward to the crowd noise anticipated to be amplified by the stadium's unique covered, but open-air design.
"I'm excited man, I know it's going to be a fun environment," Evans said. The Oklahoma product was joined in this excitement by Henderson, who averaged 8.9 yards per carry over the past two seasons as a Memphis Tiger. The explosive back said he definitely can imagine breaking off a big run in the stadium — but won't let the prospects of a shiny 2020 season take his mind off year one.
"It's exciting… but at the end of the day we still have to go out and do our job," Henderson said.
"But it's going to be a great feeling to play in this stadium."
For more information on the new L.A. Stadium, visit www.therams.com/stadium