LOS ANGELES -- An ironworker working on the construction site of SoFi Stadium, the future home of the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams, has tested positive for COVID-19, clouding the immediate future of the project.
The Herrick Corporation, one of the companies involved with the construction of SoFi Stadium, sent an email Friday night notifying those who might have come in contact with the infected ironworker, a copy of which Sports Illustrated’s ChargerReport has obtained. When reached for a statement on the positive test for COVID-19 on Saturday, The Herrick Corporation vice president Wayne Morrison told SI, "No comment."
A stay-at-home order issued by California governor Gavin Newsome on March 19 halted most business activity within the state. However, officials gave SoFi Stadium project permission to continue operation while the order remains in place. To that end, Turner AECOM Hunt, the joint venture serving as a general contractor for the stadium construction, sent all non-essential workers home and installed increased health and safety guidelines for all remaining workers.
The new protocols dictated that workers maintain at least six feet of distance from each other during rest periods and lunch breaks, forbid any group gatherings, called for deep cleaning on job sites and the installation of additional toilets and hand-washing stations, as well as other guidelines. It also stated that "if these guidelines cannot be met and a project is in tight quarters, consideration should be given to shutting the construction project down until safer conditions exist."
It remains unclear how the positive test for COVID-19 will affect SoFi Stadium's construction. Since the stay-at-home order went into effect, businesses in California not deemed essential suspended their operations. Meanwhile, the city of Los Angeles has also implemented restrictions on parks, playgrounds, hiking trails, and other public spaces in hopes of slowing the transmission of the virus. The order will expire on April 19, though the state can issue an extension.
The state of California can, at its discretion, halt the construction of SoFi Stadium while the order remains in place. Likewise, the stadium project can opt to shut down until it can ensure the safety of its workers. Whether either chooses to do so in light of the positive COVID-19 test remains to be seen.
If delays hit the project, they could potentially prevent SoFi Stadium from opening in time to host home games for the Chargers and Rams during the upcoming NFL season. Already, construction issues related to weather pushed the stadium's debut a year from its original 2019 target date.
The NFL, Chargers, and Rams have not commented on their contingency plans should the facility not open in 2020. The Chargers have spent the past three seasons at Dignity Health Sports Park, a 27,000-seat soccer stadium located in the suburban city of Carson, while the Rams have played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Even if SoFi Stadium does not open later this year, an NFL official told SI that the stadium would still host Super Bowl LVI, which is scheduled for February 2022, despite the league's policy on new venues playing two full seasons before holding the game.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH