LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles hasn’t hosted a Super Bowl in nearly three decades. But from the very start, the area has a storied history of hosting the big game.
That history certainly isn’t lost on NFL Hall of Famer James Lofton.
Lofton, 65, played in three Super Bowls for the 1990s Buffalo Bills, including Super Bowl XXVII at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena against the Dallas Cowboys. He also was in attendance for the first Super Bowl held in 1967 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
To this day, he still remembers going to the inaugural game with $8 tickets.
“The tickets were $10 and $8,” Lofton said. “We had the less expensive version of the tickets for the game. We sat up really high, but every quarter we moved down a little bit because there were empty seats. By the time the game was over, we were at about the 40-yard line about 20 rows up.”
Lofton added, “We had great seats for the ballgame.”
Sunday’s Super Bowl will be the eighth one ever held in the Los Angeles area and the first held at SoFi Stadium, which opened in September 2020. From an $8 ticket in the late 1960s to today where the lowest available tickets are about $6,000 per seat.
The game has clearly evolved and expanded far beyond where it started 55 years ago, Lofton said.
“It wasn’t the Super Bowl; it was the World Championship Game,” he said. “It wasn’t even called the Super Bowl.”
But even in seeing the historic matchup between Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers against Hank Stam’s Kansas City Chiefs, Lofton said it didn’t influence his future trajectory “at all.”
“Not one bit,” he said. “I mean, I was a kid going to the game and wondering, ‘Am I going to get a hot dog? Am I going to get a Coke?’ Maybe as a bonus, I’d get a bag of popcorn. It’s not like today with all the media influence where somebody can all of a sudden at 8-years-old, they’ve been watching SportsCenter since they were 4 and know they want to be an NFL player.”
Despite the environment of the age, Lofton played 16 NFL seasons and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003. He and the Bills were winless in three tries at the Super Bowl crown, taking a 52-17 drubbing in 1993 before a Southern California crowd just shy of 100,000 people.
Still, he said the one in Los Angeles was “special” since he’s from the area and had never before played a game in the Rose Bowl.
“I loved every minute of it,” he said.