Usually Super Bowls are played at neutral sites, but this year’s Super Bowl LVI in Inglewood, California will be a home game for the NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams. When they take on the underdog Cincinnati Bengals this February 13, 2022, all eyes will be upon SoFi Stadium, the former site of Hollywood Park Racetrack. Being that SoFi is just a stone’s throw from the former Cockatoo Inn location, let’s look at some of the events that led up to Sunday’s big game. How did SoFi go from Hollywood Park to Super Bowl site? How did the Rams end up back in LA?
A brief chronology of Hollywood Park-related events
Hollywood Park Racetrack had a remarkable history. For centuries, the “sport of kings” has attracted people all over the world. Making the sport accessible in the heart of Los Angeles made for a prosperous 75-year run. Here are some notable moments:
- June 10, 1938: Hollywood Park was opened and founded by Warner Bros. head Jack Warner, and had prominent shareholders such as Walt Disney, Samuel Goldwyn, and Daryl Zanuck.
- 1938: Seabiscuit won the inaugural Hollywood Gold Cup.
- 1950: Like the Cockatoo Inn, Hollywood Park was destroyed by a fire and had to be rebuilt. The new track opened in 1950.
- 1950s – 1990s: A popular track, Hollywood Park was often frequented by celebrities, and many of them, along with trainers, and jockeys, patronized the nearby Cockatoo Inn for decades.
- In addition to celebrities, former Cockatoo Inn employees were also known to frequent Hollywood Park Racetrack.
- October 1969: Famed Cockatoo Inn owner Andy Lococo was indicted by a federal grand jury on perjury, pertaining to an investigation to fix west coast horse races.
- July 3, 1977: Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew, finished fourth in the Swaps Stakes, a major upset at Hollywood Park.
- April 1979: Famed trainer of Pole Position, Goodie Goodwin, revealed in Sports Illustrated how grateful he was to be living at the Cockatoo Inn, across the street from Hollywood Park.
- November 10, 1984: Hollywood Park hosted the first ever Breeders’ Cup in a dramatic finish for winner, Wild Again.
- December, 1993: The 3,000-square-foot Noble Threewitt/Charlie Whittingham Horsemen’s Lounge opened. Whittingham was a regular at the Cockatoo Inn.
- Summer 1994: $100 million expansion for Hollywood Park Casino
- September 10, 1999: Churchill Downs, Inc. purchases Hollywood Park
- May 9, 2013: Hollywood Park closure was announced. It was demolished the following year.
- January 12, 2016: Inglewood commits to build a new stadium on the site of the old Hollywood Park Racetrack. The Rams purchase part of that land, in anticipation of their Los Angeles return.
- February 13, 2022: The new stadium, currently known as SoFi Stadium, hosted Super Bowl LVI, where the hometown Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20.
While the economics for Hollywood Park Racetrack changed, Southern California still boasts famous venues like Santa Anita Racetrack and Del Mar Racetrack.
A brief chronology of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams franchise
- 1946: The Cleveland Rams receive approval by the NFL to move to Los Angeles. They enter an agreement to play at the Los Angeles Coliseum. They were the second professional football team to play in Los Angeles, after the Los Angeles Dons, who was partially owned by actor Don Ameche (pictured above).
- 1957: The Los Angeles Rams set an all-time NFL attendance record, playing before a total of 1,051,106 fans in a total of 19 home and away games, including pre-season contests. The record stood until 2006. In a game against the 49ers that year, the Rams set a record for attendance for a regular-season NFL game with 102,368.
- 1979: Georgia Frontiere (d. 2008) inherits the team after her husband dies.
- January 20, 1980: The Rams make it to their first Super Bowl, falling to the Steelers in Super Bowl XIV, 31–19.
- 1980: The Rams move their home stadium to Anaheim Stadium.
- April 12, 1995: After a contentious fight, the league and its owners allow Frontiere to move the Rams to St. Louis.
- January 30, 2000: The Rams won their first and only championship in Super Bowl XXXIV, 23-16 versus the Tennessee Titans.
- January 12, 2016: With a commitment from Inglewood to build a new stadium, the NFL approved the return of the Rams to Los Angeles. The San Diego Chargers, who also began their franchise in LA, would relocate and share what’s now known as SoFi Stadium.
- February 3, 2019: The Rams reach Super Bowl LIII, only to fall to the New England Patriots, 13-3.
- February 13, 2022: The Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, winning their second Super Bowl.
It was a long road to go from Hollywood Park to Super Bowl site. After almost 80 years, a confluence of events, relocations, acquisitions and divestitures finally brought the city (and the Rams) to this moment. Like many LA stories, it was littered with contentious events, remarkable characters and battling interests. Where will this site be 80 years from now?
Are you going to the game? Got a prediction? Let us know in the comments!
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