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Photo: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The perfect coda for 2020: The most expensive stadium ever built could conclude its first NFL season without hosting a single fan.

Why it matters: SoFi Stadium in L.A. was supposed to be a Mecca for fans. Instead, it's the most beautiful $5 billion placeholder money can buy.

The big picture: This season was set up to be one of the league's biggest, with a glut of marketable stars, two new stadiums (L.A.; Vegas) that put the term "state-of-the-art" to shame and a 2019 ratings spike that portended good things to come. Then, the coronavirus hit.

  • While the pandemic — or the fact that stadiums are still mostly empty — is certainly not the league's fault, its bungled response along the way has only highlighted the contrast between those sky-high expectations and the reality of this season unlike any other.
  • And tonight's game, a Super Bowl LIII rematch between the rallying Patriots and first-place Rams that doubles as SoFi's final primetime game of the year, serves as yet another stark reminder of just how good we could have had it if things had broken right.

Yes, but: For all the challenges and missteps along the way, here we are just four weeks shy of the playoffs with 32 teams who've completed their full slate of games.

The bottom line: You may not be able to visit this breathtaking stadium in person yet, but that video board still looks pretty incredible on TV (8:20pm ET, Fox).

Go deeper: The end of COVID’s grip on sports may be in sight

Go deeper

Updated 31 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas — Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements.
  3. Politics: Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Mark Milley tests positive for COVID-19 — Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health."
  4. Economy: Report: World's 10 richest men doubled wealth during pandemicAmerica's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic.
  5. States: America struggles to keep schools open — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  6. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — French parliament passes COVID vaccine passport legislation.
  7. Variant tracker
Jan 29, 2021 - Health

Ex-CDC director Tom Frieden on the next COVID-19 vaccines

Americans fortunate enough to receive COVID vaccines now, outside of clinical trials, are getting shots made by either Pfizer or Moderna. But newly released data from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson suggests that more vaccines could be on the way, with J&J's requiring a single dose.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the news and why it matters with Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, as COVID-19 variants spread globally.

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.