Building SoFi Stadium One Lego At A Time — 500,000-Piece Legoland Miniature Comes To Life
SoFi Stadium started construction in 2016, before officially opening for business in 2020. Now it's been rebuilt. Or rather, a 30-foot-long Lego version of it has been constructed.
It's opening as part of the Southern California section of Legoland California's Miniland USA, a theme park area packed with smaller-scale versions of major world landmarks and cities. Construction and installation were recently completed after the project was announced ahead of this year's Super Bowl, featuring the L.A. Rams at SoFi.
It was shipped to Legoland in 60 separate pieces due to its immense size after being built offsite.
The stadium is filled with little jokes and references, which you'll find among more than 3,000 Miniland figures seated inside the stadium. One real-world specific you'll be able to spot is that the Lego players on the field represent the Los Angeles Rams' starting offense. Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the team's cheerleaders joined the ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday.
The builders get to figure out the smaller details themselves, giving them their own creative freedom in the process.
"What are the fans doing? Are they holding a hot dog? Are they holding some cash up and buying a hot dog? Who's cheering? Are they doing the wave?" Legoland Master Model Builder PJ Catalano said in an interview with LAist.
The scenes on display are modular too, so plans are underway to rotate out football for some concerts down the road, as well as other sports events. They'll also be able to change the people in the crowd.
"As you're building, you see these things coming together, and it might not be recognizable. You get a few layers and you're like 'Oh, yeah, I see what's going on,'" Catalano said.
It's a larger scale than most of the Legoland models, which are built at a twentieth the size of real-life — Lego SoFi Stadium is a fiftieth of the size of the real thing. Even at 1:50 scale, it's a huge addition to the park, with fans filling tiny bleachers to see the Rams in action.
"It's going to be an absolute monster," Catalano said.
The model measures more than 30 feet long, 15 feet wide, and 4 feet tall. Now that it's installed, it's overtaking the entire mini-Southern California skyline, according to Catalano.
Each Legoland around the world has its own miniature Lego stadium, but this one was set to break the Guinness World Record as the largest anywhere — taking down the previous reigning champ, Legoland Deutschland's miniature of Munich's Allianz Arena. The completed brick SoFi includes more than 500,000 pieces of Lego, weighing more than 3,500 pounds.
To create a model this intricate, designers make use of computer modeling to get the overall design just right.
"Smaller models are a little bit easier to just kind of make up in your head. The bigger it gets, the more computer planning it needs. You're not just making this up on the fly," Catalano said. "A model this big, it isn't one model. You have many pieces being built as blocks that are coming in, and now they're put together into one big structure."
The project is broken into smaller teams, with one team responsible just for the roof, another for the greenery outside, and more. A team of 25 Lego Model Builders spent more than 6,000 hours putting this all together.
Catalano himself has been with Lego for eight years now. As he explained, the interview process includes having to build 2-D and 3-D objects under 30-minute time limits. Everyone got to put those skills to the test as they constructed objects like this Honey I Shrunk The SoFi.
"I encourage that anyone that wants to be a [Lego master model builder] to keep building, take pictures of your builds," Catalano said. "Keep going, because it's a lot of kids' dream to do this — it's a lot of adults' dream to do this. So … practice, practice following the instructions, practice building on your own."
Lego SoFi joins other Los Angeles landmarks in Miniland, including models of the Griffith Park Observatory, the Hollywood Bowl, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and a Legowood sign. It's the first addition to Miniland since before the pandemic, coming on the heels of the Star Wars portion of Miniland being removed in early 2020 as the park moved to focus more on the characters from its own Lego movies. Legoland also plans to debut more new models in the Southern California section of Miniland later this year, set to be announced in the coming weeks.
Other upcoming events at the park include a Lego Ferrari building race, with a life-sized Ferrari built out of Lego on display.
You can visit the new smaller SoFi Stadium for prices a bit cheaper than the Super Bowl, along with many other events held at SoFi — single-day tickets for Legoland (just north of San Diego in Carlsbad) start at $89.99.
This story has been updated.