Super Bowl Audible? Game Could Change Venues Last Minute for California COVID Laws

The 2022 Super Bowl is scheduled to be played Feb. 13 in SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, California, but the recent spike in COVID-19 cases has forced the National Football League (NFL) to explore its options.

This search for alternative venues is not out of the ordinary, as the NFL typically contacts a number of other teams regarding replacement Super Bowl sites in the event of an emergency. However, as COVID cases continue to surge, tightening restrictions in California could force the NFL's contingency plan into action.

Another potential wrench for a Los Angeles Super Bowl is the fact that SoFi Stadium has a roof, although translucent vents and open-air sides means that the stadium is not technically an "indoor" arena. However, L.A. officials would likely still consider the game an indoor event given the closeness of the fans to each other.

If the Super Bowl is moved, it would follow the cancellation of another large event, the Grammy Awards. Music's biggest night, which was also scheduled to take place in Los Angeles at the Arena, announced Wednesday that it was being postponed indefinitely due to public health concerns.

NFL Football
NFL officials are considering alternative sites to host the 2022 Super Bowl as COVID rampages across the state of California. However, the NFL reiterated that pro football's marquee event always includes a contingency plan. Patrick McDermott/Getty

Even with the Omicron variant sweeping through the city and the state, California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly stated "mitigation strategies that create safety around that event are in place" to allow the game to go forward as planned.

"I know L.A. County is closely in contact with the NFL to make sure that strategies are put in place to ensure that people can enjoy this important event while making sure that we put things in place that allow COVID mitigation to be an important feature," Ghaly said of the Super Bowl.

Additionally, even with the NFL exploring alternative sites, league spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in a statement that "we plan on playing Super Bowl 56 as scheduled at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 13," and added that the search for a different stadium was still just precautionary.

"As part of our standard contingency planning process that we conduct for all regular and postseason games, we have contacted several clubs to inquire about stadium availability in the event we cannot play the Super Bowl as scheduled," McCarthy continued. "Our planning process for the Super Bowl in Los Angeles is ahead of schedule and we look forward to hosting the Super Bowl there to culminate another fantastic NFL season for our fans and clubs."

One of these locales is reportedly AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The home of the Dallas Cowboys, the stadium hosted college football's Rose Bowl last year, typically played in Pasadena, California, due to COVID restrictions at that time.

The Los Angeles Rams, who share SoFi Stadium with the Los Angeles Chargers, would likely relish the chance to play a Super Bowl in their own stadium, but moving the game out of the City of Angels would not be unprecedented.

Los Angeles was originally chosen to host Super Bowl 55 in 2021, but construction problems caused the opening of SoFi Stadium to be delayed. As a result, the NFL instead chose to play the game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida.

SoFi Stadium officials referred Newsweek to the NFL's statement when reached for comment.