The Los Angeles Rams won their home debut on Sunday, absolutely thrashing the Scott Tolzien-led Indianapolis Colts by a score of 46-9.
It was a big day for the Rams, kicking off just their second season in Los Angeles and providing new head coach Sean McVay with the first win of his career. Unfortunately, hardly anyone was around to see it.
The Rams are currently playing their home games in the Los Angeles Coliseum while their own home stadium is built nearby in Inglewood. The Coliseum is home of the USC Trojans, a storied arena that has a listed capacity of 93,607. On Sunday, by some accounts, the stadium was not even a 30% full.
Shots from around the stadium seemed to back up that estimate. Although the Rams reportedly listed the number of “distributed” tickets at 60,000, images from the game made it clear that a good amount of those tickets never made it through the front gate.
The images are even more abysmal when you consider that the previous night’s game between the USC Trojans and Stanford Cardinals brought over 77,000 people to the Coliseum. With such an established fan base for the local college team, the apparent disinterest in professional football from the greater Los Angeles area should be somewhat troubling to the league, as the NFL has fought in recent years to bring not just the Rams but also the Chargers to the city.
The Chargers are playing their first season back in Los Angeles this year and had already struggled to bring fans out to their games, finishing dead last in 2016 in their final season in San Diego. Since they are playing the year in a stadium built for soccer with a maximum attendance of just 27,000, they will have an easier time making their stadium look full. That said, they struggled to draw interest in their preseason debut.
What’s more concerning is the eventual opening of the Rams and Chargers permanent home, the Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park. Scheduled to open in 2020, the stadium will be built to hold 70,000 on a game-to-game basis, and can expand to hold 100,000 for marquee events like the Super Bowl. It promises to be one of the best stadiums in the country, but if the Rams and Chargers can’t gin up some interest from football fans in the area, there might be very few people around to enjoy it.
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