Animation from the new virtual reality experience created by Tangerine Apps shows how prospective buyers will be able to explore the new stadium. (Courtesy Los Angeles Rams)

New experience will help sell seating, sponsorships at Inglewood stadium

The Los Angeles Rams came up short in the Super Bowl, but the organization continues to show creativity both on the field and off. It has opened up the playbook, using virtual reality to sell seats and ads at the team’s stadium in a $5 billion Inglewood complex, set to open in 2020.

The VR experience transports fans and brand executives into the venue where they can navigate to any seat or suite. They can even “be” on the field, looking up to view the stadium’s signature two-sided oculus oval video ring and through the clear ETFE roof.

“We’re trying to be cutting edge,” said Chris Hibbs, chief commercial officer and general manager for the L.A. Stadium and Entertainment District project. “Seeing the size and scale of (the venue) in a virtual way, you can put yourself at the 50-yard line and look up and see how massive it is.” The stadium will have 70,240 seats for NFL games, expandable to 100,000, and encompasses 3.2 million square feet.

“It allows people to see what it is really going to look like in (their) seat or suite, or from the sponsor perspective, a chance to light up the stadium in their color or brand,” Hibbs said. “We’ll use it for all those things.” Legends Global Sales is selling season tickets and premium seating for both the Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers, who will also play at the stadium, and sponsorships for the stadium.

He added that the experience was originally designed to help program content on the unique 120-yard-long video ring since there is not expected to be much time to practice after construction ends and before the facility opens.

“It’s two-sided and is a first,” Hibbs said. “One of the challenges in doing a first is how do you program it? This (VR experience) is an exact architectural model. It’s exactly what it will look like and you can design your content. A designer can build all the aspects of a concert based on this model.”

The VR experience was created by Tangerine Apps, a local firm that was hired by L.A.’s Olympic bid group to show off the stadium and other venues to the International Olympic Committee.

Hibbs told VenuesNow, “They had done a simplistic version of our venue and we asked if they could go in deep and do a detailed version of our venue and they said yes. They had a version of our stadium at sunset so you could see the glimmer of sunset in the stadium.”

The experience was unveiled in Atlanta ahead of the Super Bowl and will be installed soon at the Inglewood stadium’s high-tech sales center. One viewer will wear a VR headset, with additional headgear connected to a display so others can join the experience.

Hibbs added that it’s a dynamic work: “(Tangerine Apps) builds on it on a continual basis. We have an open plaza and a 6,000-seat indoor performance venue (as part of the complex). There are nuances: clubs, suites, subterranean parking.”

Hibbs wouldn’t divulge the cost of the project. And while he doesn’t think it will be the deciding factor for fans or brands, he does think it will pay off: “(VR) could be an accelerator. If you can get someone to look at it and say, ‘Wow! This is what it’s like when I’m hosting guests or my brand is on the screen,’ and they can understand it faster … no one is going to make an investment because of the VR, but if they can embrace it faster that’d be a good use of it.”

Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles who has researched and written extensively about VR, said he has not yet seen the experience but sees its potential for these types of projects. “This is precisely the application that makes the most sense for VR,” he said. “I’ve talked about this a lot, but this is the first real-life application I’ve seen in practice.”