Arash Markazi wrote up a great column a couple of weeks ago for the LA Times that went into the idea the NFL bumbled up the fan experience for Los Angeles by failing to have a team in the area for 21 years. So, now with the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers duking it out for fans, what does the NFL do to make sure the fans grow a fondness for their new teams?
Well, how about playing one of their eight games in another country?
Here’s why the LA Rams have been hurt by the international games and why its a good thing that the rest of our games this season will be at home:
It’s ain’t the Rams house if it’s not at home
This sounds ridiculous, but the LA Rams can’t afford to send away precious home games while they’re hustling to build a championship team that the city can get behind. Think about this, since the the Rams flew to London to play the Cincinnati Bengals, the Los Angeles Lakers and the LA Clippers have played seven home games, winning all of them. The point is: both teams have massive star power and are a big draw in LA.
And you know what’s a great way to compete for the spotlight with other LA teams? How about actually playing your own home games in the city?
The NFL is so preoccupied with building its international presence that they can’t see the freeways through the smoke — they should be sending teams with a national fanbase overseas, like the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, those teams wouldn’t volunteer to lose a valuable home game and the only reason why the Rams have done it is because they were forced to with their relocation agreement.
But again, the NFL hurt the development of the fanbase in the process just so they could make some noise in London and Mexico City (which eventually didn’t work out).
Rams-Bengals would have been a great entry game for new fans
When the sports media climbs onto their high horse and makes snarky jokes about the attendance of Rams games, they fail to apply the context needed to truly understand what the NFL and the Rams are asking of young fans — for example, when the Rams host the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football, let’s say a 21-year old resident of say, Culver City, wants to go see the game. Great! Prime time against a big market team. Sounds fun, right?
Well, even for terrible seats, the best tickets that you can find online are still going to be over a hundred dollars per ticket (with fees). That means that you’re asking a kid, who did not grow up around the Rams or any other NFL team, to pay over $200 for two tickets and that’s just to get you in the door!
And again, these are awful seats, way up at the top, practically on the torch. If you wanted a decent seat, say, in section 213, you’re going to have to add about 80-100 dollars more to each ticket price. The point is, a young fan is dealing with Chicago transplants, which drives up the price. But the Chicago transplant was reading Mike Ditka picture books as a toddler while our hypothetical Culver City resident had a Kobe Bryant poster on their wall.
Now, if that Rams-Bengals game wasn’t in London, there would have been an opportunity to catch the Rams at home against a team that won’t drive up the ticket prices. Maybe this fictional Culver City resident could have snagged a ticket for 80 bucks. Who knows?
Once SoFi Stadium opens up next season, potential Rams fans will be asked to invest even more to attend a game. Will the LA Rams have the loyalty in their back pocket to ask young fans to take such a financial hit to attend a game when they can just watch it on TV?
The LA Rams fan base in LA is still small and I don’t think it helps to add fans that can’t easily attend the games.
The damage has been done by the NFL’s greedy decision to remove a home game each year for the past four seasons (luckily, Shakira fans helped out last season and the Mexico City game was a last-minute change to Los Angeles).
Moving forward, the Rams have some pretty significant home games coming up: the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals, and the Seattle Seahawks. And three of these games will be prime time matchup on national TV.
So, LA still has a chance to shine. And sadly, it’ll be up to the old guard to pick up the slack while the potential fans who grew up without the Rams learn:
Los Angeles is indeed the Rams house, 7 out of 16 games.