By moving two teams to Los Angeles in 2016, the NFL stood to gain major long-term financial benefits and there’s a clear delineation between the Rams’ attendance numbers before and after the move from St. Louis, including over the past two seasons in which the team has gone 8-18 since winning the Super Bowl. The NFL wanted to build a spectacle in Los Angeles with SoFi Stadium to attract many thousands of people to a destination football experience.
The NFL is getting that, as the 3-6 Rams rank sixth in average home attendance with 73,587 per game.
That is a major jump from the numbers that the Rams were pulling in during their final days in St. Louis.
Though it is fair to say that by 2015 the Rams had dug a hole in St. Louis that they couldn’t climb out of, the franchise ranked 32nd in attendance during their final season before moving, pulling in 52,402 fans per game at home. When the team first moved to L.A., the Rams were 31st and averaged 57,024 per game, only ahead of the then-Oakland Raiders.
Of course, the Rams and Chargers were in temporary facilities between 2016-2019, and then the pandemic put a complete pause on attendance in 2020.
When fans returned to games in 2021, the Rams ranked eighth in attendance at 71,598 per game (capacity over 100%) and the Chargers were 10th at 70,240. These numbers do not just reflect the fact that the two teams moved from smaller markets to the second-largest market in the country, but due to the fact that there is a greater likelihood that fans of other teams will be able to watch the franchise they root for in one of the most famous cities in the world. L.A. has transplants from all over the country and the world, making it easy for fans of teams like the 49ers to travel for games, if they don’t already live in Southern California, which many of them do.
Winning the Super Bowl certainly helps attendance, but success can only take you so far: Following the Patriots’ sixth Super Bowl championship in 2018, New England ranked just 19th in attendance at 65,753 per game in 2019.
That same year, the New York Jets ranked second in attendance at 78.523 per game.
The Dallas Cowboys always rank first, win or lose, and the two “New York” teams are consistently in the top-10, if not top-5.
Following the Rams Super Bowl win in 2021, the Rams ranked seventh in home attendance and ninth in road attendance, becoming a slightly more interesting draw because of Matthew Stafford and the team’s previous season success. So even though the Rams aren’t winning many games and do not appear to have a real homefield advantage, capacity has been over 100% since 2021.
The same can’t be said for the Chargers (98.2%, which ranks 21st) or the Raiders (95.9%) even though Las Vegas is a city you’d think would have an easier time getting fans to hop on a flight to see their favorite teams.
As the NFL eyes moving teams to Europe with potential expansion and/or relocation, the teams with the worst attendance numbers in totals and stadium capacity are the Arizona Cardinals (62,714 per game, 96.5% capacity, but have a new stadium and aren’t moving), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (63,920, 97.1%), Washington Commanders (64,341, 95.2%), and Tennessee Titans (66,352, 98.5%). The Falcons rank last in capacity at 92.8% and the oft-cited most-likely team to move, the Jaguars, actually rank 12th in average attendance and are at 98.2% capacity.
The NFL wants fans from all over the world to go to SoFi Stadium, the league’s most expensive spectacle and potentially the best of its kind anywhere on planet earth right now. So far, it’s still working.