The construction of Los Angeles' SoFi Stadium continues despite a statewide stay-at-home order issued by the state in response to the global coronavirus pandemic. However, that project might need to re-evaluate whether to proceed in light of a new development at the other ongoing NFL construction project: the Las Vegas Raiders' future home Allegiant Stadium.
On Wednesday, Mortenson-McCarthy Builders, the general contractor for Allegiant Stadium, announced that one of its construction workers has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
"Mortenson/McCarthy was notified today that a worker on the Allegiant Stadium project tested positive for COVID-19," the company said in a press release. "Per the CDC guidelines, and as a result of implementation of social distancing protocols, the worker was not in close contact with any other project worker and has been off site since last week. The individual is now self-isolating for 14 days and will not return to work until cleared to do so.
"Mortenson/McCarthy previously implemented stringent cleaning protocols on the project consistent with CDC guidelines. In accordance with those protocols, the area where the worker had been assigned, and the surrounding vicinity, was immediately shut down and sanitized. Work continues in other areas of the project that remain unaffected."
While the positive test did not shut down the project, it raises concerns about the ability for construction to continue as planned for large facilities like sports arenas and stadiums. Like those building Allegiant Stadium, the general contractor for SoFi Stadium has implemented increased health and safety measures for workers and sent non-essential employees home.
Still, the highly contagious nature of the virus creates major complications for any workers, even those undertaking social distancing and other best practices. If someone can contract the virus at a construction site in Las Vegas, it stands to reason that the same could occur in Los Angeles, one of the areas hardest hit by the pandemic in the United States.
Should the spread of COVID-19 or heightened restrictions by the state or city delay the debut of SoFi Stadium until after 2020, the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams would have to find replacement venues for the upcoming season. The Chargers have played the last three seasons at Dignity Health Sports Park while the Rams have used the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The NFL awarded Super Bowl LVI, set to take place in February 2022, to SoFi Stadium, a decision that a construction setback could affect. However, the league currently plans to play the game there even if the facility doesn't open as currently scheduled.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH