The Rams and Cowboys capped off the first NFL Sunday of the year last night. The game was highly entertaining, since Dallas lost. Malcolm Brown scored a pair of touchdowns for Los Angeles; Ezekiel Elliot had 96 yards and a score for the Cowboys. But the real star of the game, on the TV broadcast, was the Rams’ new stadium.
Defector’s Lauren Theisen compiled this two-minute montage of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth just fawning over this building. (If you can’t see the video in the embed, click here.) The over-the-top praise was made funnier because there were no fans in attendance at the stadium last night.
“It definitely turned out to be a palace,” Collinsworth said.
Look, it’s a brand new building. It’s going to be neat. This long Los Angeles Times story does a deep dive into the construction of the $5 billion building that sits at the site of the old Hollywood Park racetrack. “Looking cool” is the bare minimum achievement for a building that cost that much to construct.
But the stadium was empty! How can we even tell if it’s any good when fans have yet to experience it? What makes a good stadium great is the atmosphere, and a giant empty stadium might as well be a field in the middle of nowhere. It doesn’t really matter what the stadium looks like when it’s empty.
Obviously NBC and its partner, the NFL, want to hype up a stadium the NFL itself is heavily invested in. But a better description of what the game was like in an empty stadium comes from those who actually participated in it. “Eerie is a great way to describe it,” said Rams coach Sean McVay. “It just felt more like a Little League game when I was 6, 7 years old playing,” said the Rams’ Aaron Donald.
Eerie. Little League. These are not the words NBC wanted to use, but they more accurately describe what a football game being played in an empty palace felt like.