In the blink of an eye, Los Angeles went from having no NFL teams to needing to house two — with the Rams and Chargers in 2017. That is when whispers began of a new state-of-the-art stadium being built on the old Hollywood Park grounds in Inglewood.

We now know that $5.5 billion structure as SoFi Stadium, which has since not only hosted NFL games, but a plethora of massive musical acts such as Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, Metallica and the current concert attendance record holder, Ed Sheeran, who saw more than 81,000 adoring fans shake the building this September.

While the enormity of SoFi Stadium could have been enough to bring life to Hollywood Park, it was only part of the first phase of planning, as the land’s owner Stan Kroenke envisioned building “a city within a city.” That vision is what guests are gradually starting to experience, as further developments have seen the YouTube Theater concert venue, NFL corporate offices, residential apartments, a movie theater, a fitness club, restaurants, retail stores and a Black-owned commercial art gallery nestled within the storied park.

“To be able to pull all of these various uses within the 300 acres of Hollywood Park, where people can come and live and work and play… was really important for us,” development manager for Hollywood Park and Principal of Wilson Meany, Chris Meany, told L.A. Weekly. “By creating, certainly, the entertainment uses… we have over 120 events a year and averaged over two events per week last year.”

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A race at the old Hollywood Park racetrack with the Great Western Forum serving as a backdrop. (via Hollywood Park)

The classic Hollywood Park racetrack that longtime Angelenos grew up with closed in 2013, bringing the end of an era. The horse racetrack had its final race on a cool Dec. 22 night, as guests watched “Woodman’s Luck” outlast the pack one final time. Standing since 1938, the Inglewood landmark’s closure was a surreal one for horse racing fans, as those in attendance stayed as long as they were physically allowed to, and fans watching from home were also treated to a final call from veteran announcer and former jockey Vic Stauffer, who famously said mid-race, “From 1938 to 2013, a final eighth of a mile, 75 years, down to 12 seconds.”

The park got its “Hollywood” name and reputation from its famous shareholders, such as the Warner Brothers Jack and Harry, Walt Disney and Bing Crosby.

The first race at the track was won by the famously undersized Seabiscuit, earning the 1938 Hollywood Gold Cup, and in true Hollywood fashion, later had an Academy Award-winning film in 2003. The removal of the racetrack left a hole in the city for roughly seven years, after 75 years of being a staple in Southern California.

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Aerial shot of the Hollywood Park racetrack in 2006. (Photo by Doc Searls)

Hollywood Park has seen a revival in the past three years, however, building an entirely new type of California landmark, while still paying respect to the old track.

“We talked to so many people around Inglewood who noted that they had this fond memory of the beautiful waterfalls that were in the infield of the old Hollywood Park racetrack and they noted how much they wanted to see a rich set of parks,” Meany said. “Hollywood Park has 25 acres of parks, a beautiful lake with waterfalls that really become a glue that connects what are these incredible entertainment venues that both work regionally, but also make living there such a special place. We’re now phasing and building on the residential and the retail. Each piece builds on the next.”

A City Within A City

Hollywood Park is in the early stages of a full-blown neighborhood within its grounds. Having already completed two luxury apartments called the Wesley and the Crosby for a total of 314 residences.


The Wesley Apartments at Hollywood Park. (Photo via Hollywood Park)

The newly built Wesley apartments could rival a stay at a luxurious hotel, with features such as a sky deck with a direct view of SoFi Stadium, a dipping spa, retro-style loungers, cabanas and an outdoor film screening area.

“It’s a very luxurious combination of top-drawer amenities and very thoughtful architecture,” lead designer Chloe Warner told L.A. Weekly. “A lot of the uniqueness of this project is the actual neighborhoods and urban planning. There was a lot of thought and care given to the width of the street, the location of the parking, the mix of residential and retail. The ability to have recreation within walking distance every night of the year.”

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The retail area of Hollywood Park gradually adds tenants as it continues expansion. (Photo via Hollywood Park)

Just steps away from the apartment complexes lie a retail district that is gradually filling with tenants. Already in operation is a Cinepolis movie theater that offers unique 4D experiences with moving seats and an IMAX theater, in addition to the Residency Art Gallery. An Iconix Fitness Center, Red Bay Coffee and Inglewood’s Three Weavers Brewing Company are on the way, as well.

“When we talk about Stan’s (Kroenke) vision for a city within a city, there has to be a retail district, a main street that operates at its core,” Meany said. “Yes, we can buy some of our retail goods online, particularly commodities, but what we still want to come together for, where retail really acts as the heart of the community, is when it comes to socializing together, when it comes to eating, when it comes to actually having that opportunity for the small retailer who’s emerging.”

While still working to fill the 101 residences in the Wesley, there is a goal to build upward of 2,500 over time.

COSM Is Coming

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(Rendering via COSM)

An intriguing attraction coming to Hollywood Park in early 2024, is an immersive visual experience, not too dissimilar to the Las Vegas Sphere, called COSM.

The COSM experience will house a large domed screen that measures 87 feet in diameter, with an IMAX-like, in-your-face projection of sporting events, art and other forms of entertainment with 8K technology.

Fitting up to 1,700 guests, COSM promises to create a feeling of physically being at a sporting event, starting with its collaborations with the NBA, UFC and Cirque du Soleil. COSM will not just stream a live game using the standard television cameras, but instead will insert its own 8K cameras in arenas, positioned in a way to give the illusion of sitting courtside.

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COSM promises an immersive experience that rivals a courtside or cageside seat at a sporting event. (via COSM)

This will be COSM’s first foray into this style of public venue and outside of the sphere, there aren’t many comparables, with CEO Jeb Terry explaining that it will be something you’ll have to experience yourself to understand.

“COSM is really the most incredible experience that I think fans will ever go to, frankly. Our goal at COSM is to leverage all the best technology and create the most dynamic, most visceral, most electric experience possible and really lean into celebrating fandom,” Terry told L.A. Weekly. “Part of the challenge of our business is that you can’t describe it. It’s literally a must-see to believe.”

While Terry promises a gaudy experience, it will not be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as the goal for COSM is to offer a price point that encourages guests to return regularly.

“The promise of COSM is that you as a fan can come any day of the week and there’s going to be incredible content and incredible hospitality, and it’s going to be an amazing experience for you whether you’re a fan of the NBA, UFC, or a fan of entertainment or art… that’s what we do,” Terry said. “We think it’s going to be category-defining.”

SoFi Stadium Is The Headliner

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(Photo via Sofi Stadium)

SoFi Stadium has become so much more than what Angelenos could have imagined. What was thought to be merely the home field for the Los Angeles Chargers and Rams, has turned into the concert destination for major pop artists who are now challenged to fill the enormous stadium that can seat up to 100,000 people. In August, Taylor Swift became the first artist to sell out not one, but five shows at the stadium. Seemingly every time a new artist performs, they attempt to beat the attendance record that Ed Sheeran took in September from Metallica.

In 2021, fans were finally able to experience what SoFi was, walking toward the stadium for the first time and the monstrous canopy-style roof, flanked by towering, Roman-like pillars and then seeing the 70,000 square-foot, double-sided videoboard soaring above the field.

SoFi then hosted the Super Bowl in 2022, properly introducing itself to not only Angelenos, but the world.

In early 2023, SoFi was the home of WrestleMania 39, setting the bar for what a monumental stage setup and show could look like.

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More than 160,000 fans filled SoFi Stadium for the 2-Day WWE WrestleMania event on April 1-2. (Photo via SoFi Stadium)

Almost connected to the stadium is the YouTube theater, which can hold a modest 6,000 guests for a more intimate concert experience.

“SoFi is, in my opinion, and obviously subjective, the most beautiful, the most experiential stadium I know of in the country,” Meany said. “It’s really about how it connects and is a focal point of a city within a city because what we have with sofi stadium and YouTube theater with its incredible 25 acres of parks, we have a place that everybody throughout the region wants to come and visit, and then we’re building around it the rest of the city, the homes and the retail that kind of makes it an elevated experience. I don’t think there was ever any question that if you created something as powerful as SoFi stadium, you would create something that is a global destination.”

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Bad Bunny performed at SoFi Stadium Sept. 30, 2023. (Photo via SoFi Stadium)

As the new Hollywood Park continues to expand its ideas and lure in guests with daily attractions, SoFi is still the engine that powers the car. If all goes to plan, the 300-acre “city within a city” will rival other popular multi-experience destinations in L.A., such as Universal Citywalk, L.A. Live and The Grove.

“My belief is that in the not-too-distant future, when you say, ‘I’m going to Hollywood Park,’ what you’re going to be saying is I’m going to a city that actually represents everything that is the best of L.A.,” Meany said. “We are one of the most amazing global cities… and Hollywood Park is all of that and more. You’re going to say, I’m going to the best part of L.A.”

Once Upon A  Time In Hollywood Park,” as appears on the L.A. Weekly Oct. 27-Nov. 2, 2023 print issue.

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