For my dad’s birthday this year, I decided to buy tickets to the home opener. Even at the time of the purchase, the Los Angeles Rams taking on the Arizona Cardinals seemed like a one-sided affair. But with the Rams coming off an 11-5 season and NFC West title, I felt it was necessary to capture that energy for the first time in 2018. For my dad, he grew up supporting the Rams, but hadn’t been to a game in nearly 30 years. He swore off the team when they moved to St. Louis but was more than happy to welcome them back when they returned in 2016.
“It’s so surreal,” he told me, “to be at an L.A. Rams game.”
But beyond the fanfare of national anthem flyovers and trotting out hall of famers for the Coliseum torch lighting, I was worried about one thing: the crowd.
Yeah, now that uniform discussion has stopped, we can focus our ire on crowd size.
I went to three games last season: the opener against the Indianapolis Colts, the heartbreaker against the Seattle Seahawks, and slugfest against the Philadelphia Eagles. Each of those games were met with pretty unfavorable takes for Rams fans. And look, I get it. If you’re reading this, you’re a hardcore fan. You go to games if you can and you wear their colors proudly. This isn’t an indictment on you, but on the inability to get 77,000 RAMS FANS (looking at you, Eagles game) into their seats.
Sunday’s attendance was announced at 66,515. Full? No. But it was a massive step in the right direction. And unlike the Seahawks and Eagles games, it was clear who’s house it was.
#RamsHouse is LOUD today. Feels like an actual home field advantage— Charlie Hiller (@charliehiller) September 16, 2018
It might have been because we were seated in the end zone and had a large concentration of people around us, but it was the loudest I had heard the Coliseum at appropriate times. No cheering for Cardinals first downs (not that there were a ton of chances) and constant noises on defensive third downs. The stadium went wild with each Todd Gurley touchdown and Brandin Cooks deep catch. It was exactly what you could hope for in an NFL setting.
It’s exciting to see a team that went 3-4 at home last season with an additional home loss in the playoffs develop what seems to be a new home-field advantage. Is the Coliseum built to amplify crowd noise like CenturyLink Field in Seattle? Does it have the sea of loud fans dressed in unified colors like Arrowhead? No, but it’s a long way from the reported 25,000 people in attendance for the home opener only a year ago.
RB Todd Gurley was asked going into Week 2 if he felt the Rams had a home field advantage:
Depends what team comes in. But, it’s cool. I don’t know. We’ve got to pick it up. We’ve got to win at the house. You always got to protect your own field. There’s nothing like going on the road and playing in a hostile of environment, expecting to lose and being able to go out there and win. So, nothing like playing on the road, but always got to be able to protect your home field, for sure.
So that’s a no. But it’s a no with a qualifier, as in, “No. Not yet.” He’s acknowledging we have to win at home. We have to win to build on the energy we had in the home opener.
This newfound energy couldn’t have come at a better time. Over the course of the next week, the Rams will host their city rival and future tenant Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, September 23 and then the eyes of the NFL will be on the Coliseum on Thursday, September 27 when the Minnesota Vikings visit for some Thursday Night Football.
So my advice? Try to make it to at least one of the games if you’re in the area. Win or lose, this is our team. Sure, navigating traffic in LA is hell, but so are hit pieces about a team with Super Bowl dreams being unable to fill their stadium.
I prefer the former.