LOS ANGELES – The weather is warm, the skies are blue and the city of Los Angeles is gearing up for the influx of NFL fans hitting the town for Super Bowl LVI between the Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Adam Burke is the President and CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, one of the many organizations that have played a role in getting the city ready for the big game. Alongside the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission (LASEC), Burke has been involved in the work of getting the city prepared to host the Super Bowl – which is just one of the major events on the menu for the city over the next 10 years.
Sitting on the pool deck at the legendary Hotel Figueroa just blocks from the Crypto.com Arena and the Los Angeles Center, Burke sat down with Fox News Digital to talk about how the city is getting ready for the big game and what fans can expect when they come to the city and enter SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.
Fox News Digital: How is Los Angeles rolling out the red carpet for the Super Bowl? What can fans expect?
Adam Burke: I’ll sort of hit it a couple of different ways. The first thing I’d like to say is that LA is always red carpet-ready. That's one of the beauties of being here in L.A., because between awards season, major sporting events, major conventions, one of the things a lot of people don't know, even the LA Convention Center is used for year-round for filming and television production. We always are ready to host these kind of major events. It's just kind of in our DNA. We live to do this. Beyond that, it's impossible to overstate how important the Super Bowl is going to be for the recovery of our local economy. But beyond that, we're in the midst of this unprecedented decade of major sporting events.
There are two things that I think are really important. One is we know the conservative estimates show that it can generate between $230 and about $470 million in local business sales. It's going to be a huge lift to our local economy. But more importantly, it's going to bring thousands of jobs back. And particularly after the past couple of years, a lot of people may not know that tourism is actually one of the leading employers in LA. We had 547,000 people working in our industry (pre-pandemic). So that's one of things I love is it's going to get our neighbors, our friends back to work.
People visiting LA are going to see is a few things. One is we definitely have taken extra steps because the Super Bowl is a special event, right? And as a result, we've done things to really make it much easier to get around LA car-free. So from the arrival experience at LAX, all the way from getting to and from SoFi Stadium. (Los Angeles Metro) has done a phenomenal job of partnering with the NFL and also SoFi Stadium. So from three hours before kickoff, all the way to an hour and a half post-game, they're going to have a complimentary shuttle every eight minutes, so they'll go directly to the nearest Metro stop so people can explore all of our neighborhoods car free.
The second thing is we put together, so you know, there's the official program guide for the game. Los Angeles Tourism is a nonprofit organization, and we have the privilege of representing over a thousand local businesses in the travel and tourism days. So we put together a special Super Bowl guide from Los Angeles tourism. People can just go to the website … and we've curated a series of three-day custom itineraries so that when you come here, you can explore all of our amazing neighborhoods. But beyond that, you can do what you want to do. So whether it's a sports-themed itinerary, and a lot of people, honestly, not just because the teams, because they want to see SoFi Stadium, right? It's a pretty special place.
But let’s just say, you’re really into arts and culture. We have itineraries for that. Plus all of our mainstays, like the Getty, the MOCA, the Grove, all of our performances and music centers … We’ve got another (itinerary) really focused on culinary. We’ve got such an amazing restaurant community, and I think the biggest reason is we’re one of the most diverse cities on the planet. Angelinos come from 140 different countries. They speak 220 different languages that informs all of our culinary offerings. So, you're going to find tastes and flavors you won't find anywhere else.
You have the Super Bowl this year and then a bunch of other all-star-caliber events. The expectations are definitely high, right?
Burke: 100%. I mean, I actually look back at this to, I had to check myself on the number. So this actually started back in 2017. And I've been in our industry about 30 years. I have never seen a city have this kind of luck with this major decade of sports.
So from 2017 to 2022, LA will have hosted the all-star game for every professional sport except for the Pro Bowl. But we've got this little game at SoFi on Sunday, so that's remarkable. But over the balance of the decade, we've got two or three, and that's almost every year. So this year, in addition to Super Bowl, we have MLB All-Star, which got rescheduled from 2020. We've got the HSBC Series Sevens for rugby, which will be a big international draw. Next year we have the College Football Playoff Championship game, as well as the U.S. Men's Open as the L.A. Country Club and WrestleMania. In 2024, we've got the men's west regional for the NCAA, for basketball. In ’26, we are a candidate city to host the World Cup, and we're very confident and optimistic that we'll get some portion of the World Cup. We also were just awarded the U.S. Women's Open at Riviera Country Club for the USGA. And then obviously everything else is all in the run-up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. So, you know, in 30 years, I've never seen a city that's had this kind of a run of major sporting events."
What sort of infrastructure improvements has the city made?
Burke: Honestly, both as someone who represents tourism but also as an Angelino who flies in and out a lot, and I'm really grateful that there's been such a huge investment in it. And also silver linings kind of guy. So one of the silver linings to me of the past two years is it's been an accelerant to all the capital improvements where things are getting done more quickly. Sadly, because things were shut down or at very low capacity.
So a great example is LAX. LAX right now in the middle of the $14 billion modernization project. It's actually the largest public works project in the country right now. It is going to completely transform it and to be one of the world's premier international airports. And you know, you and I both know this flying in and out of LAX, the challenges we've had are getting all that traffic out of the loop, but it's getting congested, making it much easier to get around the airport, but also to rental car trips and parking. By the end of ’23, they're going to have an automated people mover. So that's going to get people not only conveniently between all the terminals. And, you know, they've been really smart about it. So there's going to be a junction in between every terminal. And when you get off there, you can also check your bags there so you don't have to go to another terminal. You can go right at that junction, check your bags, get ready for your flight. But it's also going to take people to an off-airport consolidated rental car center so everything's no more rental car busses in the loop. It will also take people to a consolidated off-airport parking so it will be incredibly easy. You get off your plane. You get on the automated people mover and within just a few minutes you're either at your car or at parking.
And then the thing that makes me most excited, Metro is going to have a direct connector from LAX to downtown, which is huge. I've kind of been tongue in cheek about it past few years and people have said, you know, because if you're coming from the international marketplace, right, any major urban destination you're used to being able to just get on the Heathrow Express, for example, by going to the central part of the city. Some people said, Well, how do you take a train from LAX to downtown? And my answer has been get a DeLorean and a flux capacitor. Well, I don't have to see that anymore, by the end of ’23 we will have a direct connect from Metro. And then the other thing is, you know, believe it or not, around these major events, it's one of the easiest times to get around LA because Angelinos are so accustomed to knowing we're going to have this huge infusion of visitors, like the two times we hosted the Olympics before. And as a result, you know, people know how to manage it. A lot of people, you know, are already working remote. So I think it's going to be a pretty easy experience for everyone.
Have you been over to the Super Bowl Experience?
Burke: It’s amazing. Honestly, I’m like a kid in a candy store because it’s literally like a football amusement park for kids of all ages. And I think that's the cool thing is it's something that's incredibly family friendly to take your young kids if you want. But the thing that I love seeing is, you know, 40- and 50-year-old grown men who are acting like they're back in their peewee days, right? It's just an amazing experience in the LA Convention Center that are amazing job of kind of transforming it into this NFL theme park.
Are you a big NFL fan?
Burke: I’m a huge Rams fan. I've kind of been following them over the years, and they've kind of been a real Cinderella story. And you could kind of tell over the past few years with the signings, what they've, you know, players they've added, there’s been this kind of growing momentum around the team, and having two NFL teams here between the Rams and the Chargers has just been amazing. Both clubs, the Chargers and the Rams, have done an amazing job of being part of the community. They do a ton of community engagement, outreach, volunteerism. Having the Rams in the first Super Bowl ever. So if I could add something really special.
Were you happy to see the Rams beat Tom Brady on the way to the Super Bowl?
Burke: You know, yes, I was happy to see us beat Tom Brady and the Bucs, but not for the reason people think. I’m one of those people, I hate winning because of someone else’s mistakes. I never want like a Bill Buckner moment. I want to see us beat the best because I think that's what you want as you always want to play against the best. The chance to go head to head and see Matt Stafford really match Tom Brady pass for pass. That was pretty remarkable, and I think you saw someone really in their ascendancy in Stafford. So yes, I’m glad we beat Tom Brady and the Bucs because you want to beat the best.
What can fans walking into SoFi Stadium expect on Sunday?
Burke: Honestly, I will say, having been in this industry so long, it's easy to get jaded because we see a lot of really cool stuff. The first time I walked into SoFi Stadium, my mind was completely blown. It's one of those things that words don't do it justice, and it’s incredible to have the gift (Rams owner) Stan Kroenke has given to LA. For him, this was really his legacy project. And as a result, we have the most state-of-the-art facility in the world for sports and live entertainment, and it's the little things people are going to be surprised by.
So certainly when you walk into a big stadium, it can feel cavernous. They've made this a very L.A. stadium, where they've taken full advantage of all the outdoor spaces, the beautiful weather, and they've still created kind of these intimate environments. So even as you walk around SoFi, you don't feel like you're getting lost, and it's still a very personal experience. But beyond that, they've done all these little touches. So you'll see parts of LA's community threaded throughout the city, and you'll get in an elevator, and you'll see a beautiful graphic that has the names of all of our neighborhoods. You'll see locally themed restaurants featuring some of the most iconic LA brands. And this is a little detail people don't know: SoFi Stadium has every plant species that's indigenous to Southern California. And that’s because Mr. Kroenke’s vision was to make this a very uniquely LA stadium.
Then you get to the big stuff, right? So everything from the infinity board, which, you know, is that huge, 70,000-pound video board that runs the complete circumference of the stadium. I had never seen that degree of clarity and something that big. As a result, there is literally not a bad seat in the house. So even if you're in the highest tiers, you are so close to the action. And I know for live fans, you want to see the instant replay. But the clarity of seeing it upon the infinity board is remarkable.
The other thing is, and this is I geek out on the science of this, they've been very careful about what this means to the players. If you look at the background on how they designed the turf, how they designed the field, it is one of the most player- friendly fields in the NFL because we're all concerned about, you know, you don't want injuries because of artificial turf. They really invested in making sure this is the most state-of-the-art field so the players love playing there. And I think people should expect is the energy in there is amazing. I mean, for something that big, they were so smart to put a roof over it because you never have to worry about the elements, but it's still beautiful open air. The sound in it is going to be deafening.
Do you have a Super Bowl prediction?
Burke: Well, I'm definitely going to pick the Rams, but I will say I don't think anyone should underestimate the Bengals. You know, I mean, they have had a remarkable season, and you know, their comeback in the [NFC] Championship Game was impressive. So, you know, I think the Rams have been really smart to say you don't ever underestimate an opponent. We all know that in the big game, anything can happen. But you know, I'm going to pick Rams by 14.