By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer

Fans came from down the street and from Up-State, as they were here to see their RAMS and “The House That Stan Built’ or the “Stan Canyon” So-Fi Stadium. You can see it’s dome-like silhouette towering over the skies in Inglewood. 

It’s been sitting for a couple of years and hosted some events but this is the first time it had its fans attend in person for a real NFL game. The pre-season opener was against it’s co-tenant’s, The Chargers. 

“This place is amazing,” said Juan Ramirez of Pico Rivera. “It’s like test driving a car that you know you’re going to buy. It looks incredible and the feel that everyone is a bit fired up makes you want be here.” 

Five years ago the Rams were in their first game back in L.A. The Rams had 90,000 show up at the Coliseum setting a pre-season attendance record. Ramirez and his wife America were part of some 68,791 that attended the game vs. the Chargers. They were with four friends and all have season seats and they each have visited before, but the seats were empty and there was no team on the field. 

You have your choice of several eateries inside the stadium that are Los Angeles themed  include OLVERA STREET (named after the historic area in L.A.), FAIRFAIX (food related to the Farmers Market), SAN VINCENTE (kin to a Brentwood’s outpost of Jon and Vinnie’s) SAWTELLE BLVD (which has Japanese style foods). 

Spanning around the stadium on most levels there in a foot-wide bar where fans can place their beers or nachos and watch the game bellied up while standing behind the last row in sections. 

This is the fifth season the team has returned from St. Louis and due to COVID not allowing them to have fans attend games last year.  

Sixty Watts Rams youth football players were in attendance. 

The Mariachi Rams led by Grammy nominated recording artist and producer Jose Hernandez performed before the game at American Airlines Plaza.  

So Cal native Ava August performed the National Anthem. (Photo: Earl Heath)

Ava August performed a spirited version of the National Anthem and received a rousing ovation. At the age of 12 August became the youngest person to appear on NBC’s The Voice and at 15 she was the youngest to appear on American Idol. The Laguna Niguel native has performed in front of a sold-out venue around the country including Dodger Stadium, The Nashville Sounds and The LA Galaxy. 

The world will see the So-Fi with fans for the first time in a regular season game as they open on a Sunday Night Football September 12 hosting the Chicago Bears. They also will host Super Bowl LVI on February 13. 

THE GAME 

The Rams came up short in a 13-6 loss to the Chargers.  

Rams starters did not play but they were full of encouragement. Raymond Calais put his name front and center of the coaches mind as he had a 29-yard punt return. The second year speedster from Louisiana-Lafayette also has a 35 yarder that was called back because of a penalty.  

 “He showed really good determination and quickness,” said Rams coach Sean McVay. “He had the one good return and the other one called back which was really good.” 

Another rookie Atwell got a late start in camp due to COVID. He caught a short pass and turned it into a 20-yard gain. At the beginning of the second quarter he had a big punt return called back because of a hold. 

“The coach made a good call I didn’t think it was flag I think it was a good block to me,” said Atwell. 

While in COVID Protocol the former Louisville star created his own routine. “I worked out on the treadmill at the hotel trying to stay in shape.” 

Quarterback Bryce Perkins completed seven of ten passes for 42 yards and had the only TD pass for the Rams connecting with Trishton Jackson for a four yarder.  

Perkins also had a nifty 12 yard end around, stiff arming a defender and hurdling over another. 

“I felt good out there” said Perkins. “I tried to correlate all the things I was working on in the last year and a half.”      

Defensive backs Brontae Harris and JuJu Hughes led the defense with seven tackles each. Harris a rookie from UAB had five solo. Hughes in his second year from Fresno State had two solo.  

Justin Lawler had five tackles including four in the first half. “He’s had some unfortunate injuries over the years injuries,” said McVay. “I thought he made his presence felt tonight.”  

NEXT: The Rams will take on the Raiders at Sofi Stadium Saturday. The game can be seen on Channel 7 and NFL Network.

Joe Jonas and Kenan Thompson (Saturday night Live) entertained at halftime. (Photo: Earl Heath)