Rams attendance continues not to knock anyone’s socks off, despite huge L.A. market

How soon is too soon to point and laugh at the Los Angeles Rams for low attendance in their return to the nation’s second-largest city? Not now, anyway:

On Sunday, the Rams faced the Atlanta Falcons at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and, based on the game’s attendance, the honeymoon is already over for the NFL in Hollywood. Either that or a lot of Rams fans came dressed as empty seats.

Which, you know, yes, it’s embarrassing. But it’s also the tail end of a lousy season for the Rams, in a sport where fans would just as well rather stay home and watch games on TV. And some of those fans might have just been stuck on line for hot dogs or something.

On the other hand, both Rams attendance and TV ratings have been pretty mediocre all season. Maybe things change once their new stadium opens in 2019, but history shows that new stadium attendance figures typically return to background levels pretty quickly once the new-car smell has worn off, so it has to be at least mildly worrisome for Rams owner Stan Kroenke. Not to mention for San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos, who right now has to decide on whether to become the second-fiddle team in the L.A. market. Some lousy attendance figures for a lousy team probably won’t change his mind by itself, but it should at least give him pause — or maybe get him to try to negotiate an out clause in an L.A. lease to let him jump back to San Diego if things go south once he moves north. That’d be what a savvy negotiator would do.


53 comments on “Rams attendance continues not to knock anyone’s socks off, despite huge L.A. market

    • Sorry but that’s how it looked when i went to see kc in preseason. They said it was sold out but it was definitely pretty empty. Simply wrong team in Los Angeles

      • First of all-they’re 2nd in the league in attendance at 83,000 a game. 2nd of all-check out a Steelers home , thousands of empty yellow seats….same with Jets, same with Browns. They sold out the entire season with an absolutely horrible team. Sorry, you cannot spin this-they have done incredibly well with an unwatchable team. When they get good-you’ll never be able to buy a ticket.

  1. Stories like this probably have something to do with it as well: http://deadspin.com/the-fan-experience-at-the-rams-stadium-sounded-like-hel-1786826307

    Also, looks like the 49ers had a bad day at the gate too: https://twitter.com/sportswatch/status/808055048131358720 Although their dreadful record and dreadful opponent may have something to do with that.

      • That’s nonsense. Candlestick was a total pain in the ass to get to, significantly worse from an access perspective than Levi’s. And the center of gravity for the team’s fanbase, season ticket holders, and players’ residences drifted towards the South Bay decades ago.

        • Boo hoo on the poor 49ers. Same crowd gloated for years about their amazing support. Now, no one cares. It was always Candlestick Park was so bad, when things were not going well. Same for the Giants. Then they get really good, and everyone shows up. Last time I looked -especially in the 70,s, The Coliseum was a in a terrible location, gang infested, until they cleaned it up, but all you heard was “oh, they’re not selling out”. Despite the fact they were continuously in the top 5 or 6 in attendance year in and year out until Georgia absolutely gutted the team. Their attendance this year is outstanding. I can tell you, living in New England, the Pats were all but out of here due to lack of fan support until Kraft built Gillette Stadium. No one around here ever brings that up, but the team was moving to ST LOUIS, and then they were going to HARTFORD. History would have been a whole lot different…

    • The Niners likely had a good day at the “gate”, since so many tickets have been sold through the PSL system. It’s just that nobody shows up. It remains to be seen how many PSL holders don’t renew and what the gate looks like next year.

      There may indeed be more people in the stadium, but those who have club access prefer to hang out in those spaces. I don’t blame them. I saw the same behavior in the second half of the PAC12 championship game. ‘Buffs fans that were seated in the Club area moved into the Cub at half-time and stayed there during the blow-out 2nd half.

  2. While the Coliseum has a rich tradition, it is not a comfortable place for pro football. Parking can be challenging, the new soccer stadium construction limits access and steep stairways with minimal railings are all obstacles before you get to your seat. Combine that with a mediocre team on the field and the novelty wears off.

    Once the team moves to Hollywood Park, the crowd basis will change. Many Coliseum season ticket holders are taking advantage of the lower prices & no PSL.

    Until the on-field quality improves, the final two seasons at The Coliseum will only draw larger crowds when the Rams play teams with large traveling/national fan bases (i.e. Cowboys, Giants, Packers).

  3. I still laugh and point at the “standing in the hot dog line”-argument, but I have had it used seriously against me. When I pointed out that about 1/3 of the seats were empty at a game at the brand new G1C, I was told fans were walking around the arena, enjoying the ambiance. This was with about 4 minutes left in the third quarter, in the middle of a big run, right about when you’d expect everyone would be in their seats.

    Why would someone pay $400 so they could enjoy the scenery only the halls of an arena can offer?

    Plus, I hate dynamic pricing. It’s the team offering seats on StubHub for $400 that the team then uses to rationalize the $400 “official” price. They’d rather sell 2/3 of the arena for an average of $300, than 100% of it for an average of $75. Creating ticket scarcity is a very poor practice in the long run. People eventually figure out that paying $0 to watch them lose is preferable to paying $300 (to win or lose). It’s alarming that they have to resort to this in a brand new arena.

  4. Wikipedia says that capacity at the LA Coliseum for Rams games is 80,000 – see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_Memorial_Coliseum .

    The box score for yesterdays Falcons-Rams game show attendance of 82.495.

    So home many were in the park for the game?

    • Maybe they were counting hands instead of heads? Or fingers???

      Official attendance figures typically include all tickets sold or otherwise “distributed” (IE: comps, bulk buys, etc), not the number used on game day. The number of bums in seats rarely approaches the official attendance figure released in any sport.

    • They started with an 80,000-seat configuration, and expanded it for some games including yesterday’s apparently.

      The upper “peristyle” sections are really bad seats, and are not typically sold for Rams or USC games: They’re as much as 120 yards (!) behind the back of the end zone, and you’re looking at the field past a bunch of dead space and the back of the field-level grandstand.

      • Those seats are without question the worst at any stadium in America. I’ve been to the Coliseum numerous times, and you cannot imagine sitting in those seats. It’s an historic venue, with a lot of memories, and when it’s packed for a big time game, like USC vs Ohio St, or Notre Dame, on a Saturday night, there’s nothing like it west of Baton Rouge. The game against the Seahawks was an example. It was really loud, but when the new stadium gets built-it will be a totally new ball game. USC is renovating the Coliseum for the purpose of bringing a less open feel, where the noise can escape, and once that happens, it will bring a really different feel. But those seats in the peristyle end should be done away with once and for all.

    • The upper “corner” seats (and often lower endzone seats in the corners) are not generally sold. However, the images posted with the story (and elsewhere) show significant sections of the stadium that would normally be occupied (and have been, for earlier games) and were not for this game.

      Yes, it is late season and yes the Rams are just not very good. And the stadium is old. But there’s no denying that actual in stadium attendance has dropped as the season progresses.

      That is not indicative of the Rams move back to LA being a “failure” or “catastrophe” or anything of the sort, but it is nevertheless true.

      • Oh, actual attendance has decreased, but I don’t think it’s all that newsworthy that ticket holders of an awful, unwatchable 4-9 team are showing their disgust by leaving early or not showing up at all. Unless you’re the Browns or the Packers or a few other teams, this is the norm: Disappointing season, disgruntled fans = lots of empty seats, even for “sellouts”. And not just in the NFL; in all of sports. It’s certainly happening to the 49ers, and they have a new stadium.

        • Cleveland isn’t some sort of exception either; the Browns’ last few home games, with an extremely high degree of justification, have been complete ghost towns. They still announced 60k+, but they’re not fooling anybody here.

          People are simply getting wiser about not showing up to support an obviously trash product.

          • I apologize. I was under the mistaken impression that Browns fans were “show up no matter what”, but after looking at Twitter, the Browns’ crowd yesterday was far smaller than the Rams’.

    • The Rams are averaging-83,000 a game-that does not include the London game, with one of the worst teams in the NFL, this -while USC led the PAC 12 in football attendance-and UCLA was 2nd-with a terrible team. I’d say that’s pretty amazing, and I live in the Norheast.

  5. I think it is generally accepted that Los Angeles was not “crying out” for NFL football. With both teams leaving more than two decades ago (and one of them only having been there for a little over a decade to begin with) there was no reason to expect fans to show overwhelming demand for the product immediately on it’s return. In the Rams’ case, fans pretty much never showed overwhelming demand in the first place. In nearly every way that matters, this isn’t the ‘return’ of a long lost team, it is effectively a brand new team.

    The new stadium will certainly help, and it’s location might be a significant attendance driver vs the coliseum as well. The Rams’ pathetic performances (particularly on offense) this season won’t be winning over too many generic (IE: non Ram) NFL fans either.

    It won’t surprise me if Rams support continues to be relatively lukewarm once they get to Inglewood. However, trying to judge the success or failure of a bad franchise in a new (but yet… old) and temporary location is impossible.

    • You can bet your booties that most of the fans at the game yesterday were Atlanta Falcons fans. Not to mention that it is a long ways away from the 2022 home date vs the Raiders. At least they will put some butts in seats in 2017 with area Redskins and Eagles players.

  6. What bad attendance figures? NFL attendance is counted by tickets sold/distributed, and the Rams sold 70K season tickets, sold out the entire season at an 80K configuration before the first preseason snap, and expanded capacity for most games. Yesterday’s official attendance was 82,000+ and they’re on pace to go from #32 in attendance last year to #2 this year behind only the Cowboys.

    Yesterday, probably half those people didn’t show up, showed up late, and/or milled around the concourses – what, are we pretending that doesn’t happen all over the place with bad teams late in the season? Did you see the 49ers’ crowd yesterday? Did you see any of those late-season St. Louis crowds of officially 40,000+ that looked more like 20,000? That’s just what happens with bad teams late in the season. Even crown-jewel franchises in shiny new stadiums:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/darrenrovell/status/808055304466419712

    • Agree completely. I watched when the Patriots were ready to live Foxboro-were packed- and ready to move to Hartford-due to lack of attendance, and stayed. Now all they do is win-yet their fans arrive late and leave early. For the Rams to draw 83,000 a game with the boring team they have-is downright amazing. The NFL in general has been awful to watch-yet the Rams are 2nd in overall attendance. That’s mind boggling-give the fans a real team-and you won’t be able to buy a ticket…

  7. And I can’t believe this needs to be said, but TV ratings are *percentages*, and the L.A. Market is 5+ times the size of St. Louis. This is 4th-grade math: “Which is greater, 18% of 1 million or 10% of 5.5 million?”

    More crucially for the NFL, the Rams at least as of mid season appeared to be boosting Fox’s and CBS’s overall ratings in Los Angeles, which had steadily dropped over the past 21 years with no local team. (Ratings in L.A. for national prime-time games and playoffs held pretty strong over that time.) This year, NFL ratings were down everywhere, but up 7% in L.A. on Fox and CBS:

    http://theramswire.usatoday.com/2016/10/19/los-angeles-rams-new-york-giants-nfl-ratings-what-time-is-london-game/

    • Fair point. When do the TV rating increases result in additional revenue for the NFL due to the Rams move to LA? When do the Rams get their 1/32nd portion of this revenue? I’m asking as I don’t know the answer. But the point is that if the TV deals are “locked” for this year (and maybe more), then only the Networks benefit from Rams move from STL to LA in the short team.

    • It is the linked article that claims that Rams attendance is “not better” than in St. Louis, but yes that is mathematically incorrect. It does not “need” to be said, however… it is obvious to everyone.

      The problem is owners don’t approve moves from relatively small markets to gigantic ones to gain an average of 350,000 viewers (if you were quoting actual numbers in the example, not sure if that was a hypothetical or real number?). They could do that by moving a team (or expanding) to a much smaller market, or just by lowering the barriers to entry across the board by a very small amount.

      Building a franchise in LA (again) will take time, as noted above. If I was Kroenke (or the other owners), however, I would genuinely be disappointed in the ratings bump thus far. It should be higher for a new team. Perhaps it will be 4-5 years down the road when they are established as an entertainment option again in the new building (maybe they will even match the 18% market penetration you quote for St. Louis). The point of the article is that both casual fans and the NFL itself would have expected a bigger bump (especially this early in the honeymoon), not that there isn’t any improvement at all.

    • The problem with the Rams TV ratings in LA is the other games broadcast in their home market are getting more viewers. Raiders games top the rankings every week. Finishing last or second to last week.in and week out in the five games broadcast is really bad. There’s still at least ten teams more popular in LA than the Rams.

      • Scanning Fred Roggin’s timeline, it appears the Raiders have only topped the rankings in L.A. three times all year, and all after their unexectedly strong start (bandwagon effect): Panthers game, Broncos game (SNF), and Texans game (MNF, Mexico City). In any case, if you look at those rankings you see they depend very heavily on how good the teams are, what time slot they’re in, and – if it’s a Sunday day game – whether or not there’s another game on at the same time. Rams are not only gawdawful, their TV scheduling in their supposed home market has been terrible. They have only been on in prime time once all season (Week 1), and in fact have only been on in Los Angeles in an exclusive PM time slot four times all season: MNF @ 49ers, and home games vs. the Seahawks, Bills, and Falcons.

        Their nine other games have all been in morning time slots (10:00 or 6:30 am local time) and/or up against other games. This includes two home games! NFL broadcast rules are supposed to give each team home-market exclusivity for home games, but they apparently suspended that for the Rams. As a result, their last two home games have been on local TV opposite other games: Chargers-Titans aired on CBS2 at the same time as Rams-Panthers on FOX-11, and Patriots-49ers aired at the same time as Rams-Dolphins. For that reason alone you really can’t compare the Rams’ “home” market ratings to any other team’s.

        • The ratings might be a sign that LA should only a one-team city. If the Chargers moved, the LA market would lose out on the best of the doubleheader or as Fox calls it “America’s Game of the Week”, as virtually every week the home LA team would have an exclusive window in the 4 ET/1PT window. That’s good news for sports bars & Directv.

          • Nah. The transplant fans will complain, but they’re not going to buy Sunday Ticket for $320 a year just because the Eagles went from ~9-10 locally-televised games a year to ~7-8.

      • Very much true, Chuck. As I recall the article stated that the KC/Denver game easily outpaced the “local” team in it’s own market.

        It will take time to build up a Rams fanbase so in some ways this is not shocking, but it’s still not a great sign that the “welcome back” phase has been really, really short.

  8. Sounds like there is no need to build a new stadium in LA. They pretty much ‘sold out’ for the season. Just have to raise ticket prices so that the lost revenue on concession and parking is less important.

  9. Angelenos invented Casual fandomship. Nobody shows up in the first quarter or inning of any sports in L.A. We got selfies to take. Beers to refresh. Nachos to munch on. Parking thieves to fight. And as pointed out by previous commentators, Angelenos were not exactly pining for the ‘NFL’ experience. The Rams moved from Los Angeles for 37 years. After 37 years, Angelenos found plenty of other things to do on mild fall days. Yes, I’m counting the move to Anaheim as leaving Los Angeles. Orange County might as well be Utah as far as Angelenos are concerned. If you ever had to fight the 5 or 405, you would understand.

    Plus, the Rams are not only bad… even worse, they are boring. No Angelenos want that taint on our tans.

    But I doubt Stan will worry about attendance in Inglewood. The Bruins average 60,0000 for their entire mediocre existence. I am fairly certain the Rams can beat that in Inglewood.

    • Good Point. Getting to the old stadium site from anywhere other than OC or immediate surrounds is not a pleasant experience.

      And Dodger fans are famous for showing up in the 2nd inning and leaving in the 7th (or maybe 8th, if it looks like extra innings are a possibility…)

      Still, in the Rams case they seem not to be showing up at all at this point in the season.

  10. The fact the Rams are losing has a lot to do with it. If Kroenke creates a splash by somehow getting either Jon Gruden or Jim Harbaugh to become the next head coach, you will see an increase in attendance.

  11. Once upon a time stadiums were built to hold people. Lots of them. Not just a few rich people in skyboxes.

    Despite being awful the Rams are 7th in the NFL in attendance, though they are 5th from the bottom in percentage of seats filled.

    Personally, I prefer the old stadiums that actually had enough seats for everyone who wanted to go to a game, though admittedly I’ve never been to the LA Coliseum and I’ve heard the sight lines are lousy.

    • They’re OK if you’re between the goal lines. If you’re in the outer Mongolia that is the west end zone or the distant galaxy that is the east (peristyle) end zone, that’s a different story.

    • “Despite being awful the Rams are 7th in the NFL in attendance, though they are 5th from the bottom in percentage of seats filled.” I assume you’re using ESPN’s attendance page for that info, and it’s incorrect. Note the number of Rams home games listed (1) and the attendance (74,000). It appears they’re only counting the London “home” game.

      This site appears to have the correct figures:

      http://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2016/attendance.htm

      They don’t calculate out per-game, but you can see attendance at the Coliseum (paid/ticketed) is averaging around 85,000, which would make them #2 behind only Dallas (with their standing-room “party pass” attendance).

      • I stand corrected, though the point “stadiums with lots of seats tend to look empty even when they have lots of people in them” still holds.

  12. Well they do have a Bad team.And they play in an outdated stadium.And like TM said Angelenos have found better things to do on Sunday’s.If I’m the Spanos family I’m having serious consideration’s of moving now.As was brought up on this website a year ago before the Rams moved can LA support 2 teams if the second team is the Chargers and not the Raiders.And if a second team does move to LA what is the turf at the LA coliseum going to look like next year at this time?Just win baby and perhaps the seats will be filled and the TV ratings up.Perhaps.

    • Where the potential second team plays temporarily has not been firmly established. The Rose Bowl is out. The soccer stadium in Carson was discussed (despite obvious smaller capacity). Coliseum officials suggested it would be possible, with a temporary artificial surface. Lack of locker room space is a concern.

    • You could bake in some bye weeks (you’d have to have some weeks where one team played at home on Sunday and the other at home on Monday night) and re-sod the middle of the field come November. If the Meadowlands can have two teams on its grass field, surely sunny LA can have three. Even if it’s a mess, NFL football used to be played in places like Cleveland Stadium where half the field was just infield dirt painted green.

  13. Hi Neil,

    Just out of curiosity (and I’m not sure if anyone else has asked you this question before), have you ever considered the possibility of starting a message board focusing on anti stadium subsidies as well as general sports discussion?

  14. The bay area sells out all supporting venues athletics, giant so, 49ers,raiders and warriors, marshawn Lynch is the best player in all of sports BTW raiders will won the super bowl and they have sold out.o.com for the next 3seasons.räaaaaaaiderssss

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