Rams are LA's most popular NFL team
The Rams are the most popular NFL team in Los Angeles but they don’t have the most diehard fans. In fact, in that department, for obvious reasons, they’re probably in the bottom half of the league.
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The Rams are the most popular NFL team in Los Angeles.
You can argue with me about the Las Vegas Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys or another team’s fan base that chants, “Beat L.A.” when their team plays in L.A. They all have strong fan bases here but no team right now is more popular in L.A. than the Rams.
If you don’t believe me, that’s fine. I get it. I can cite polls that show how the Rams are already the third most popular professional sports team in L.A. after the Lakers and Dodgers, maps that show how they dominate NFL ticket sales in Southern California and other random metrics that won’t have as much impact on you as the percentage of fans filling a sold out stadium.
I’m not saying the Rams run L.A. I’m not saying they dominate L.A. I’m not even saying there’s a big gap between one and two. I’m just saying if you were to poll everyone who lives in L.A., and ask them what NFL team they support, you would get more L.A. residents saying they support the L.A. Rams than a team that plays in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Dallas or another city in another state.
This really shouldn’t be earth shattering news but it is when you’re talking about a melting pot like L.A. that didn’t have a team for 21 years. You were always going to have fans from other cities here but now you have an entire generation of fans in L.A. who grew rooting for those teams in other cities. There’s no one under 30 who grew up an L.A. Rams fan because the Rams were in St. Louis when they were growing up.
Now I’m going to say something that’s going to make no sense to sports fans but will (hopefully) explain why SoFi Stadium will likely be a sea of red on Sunday for the NFC Championship Game.
While the Rams are the most popular NFL team in Los Angeles, they don’t have the most diehard fans. In fact, in that department, for obvious reasons, they’re probably in the bottom half of the league.
The problem we often make when judging a team’s overall fan base in a city is simply judging it based on diehard fans. We do that every time we base a team’s popularity in a city of 4 million by those lucky enough to be inside of a stadium that seats 70,000.
What’s a diehard fan?
It’s a fan that lives and dies with their team. They will pay just about any amount to see their team play. Whether it’s season tickets and parking passes for home games or airfare and hotel accommodations for road games, their annual budget includes a line for their team. It is as much a part of their life as paying for their home and car. If you’re not a diehard fan, you will think that’s crazy. Diehard fans will think you’re crazy for not understanding. Their team is an extension of their family. Even if they have to take out a loan, they’re finding a way to keep a roof over their head, send their kids to college and for tickets to the championship game.
If you think that’s a joke, take a look at the prices for the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium.
The cheapest ticket to the NFC Championship Game on Sunday is over $700 with the cheapest parking passes going for over $200. If you want to go to the Super Bowl, the cheapest ticket will be over $7,000.
Only true diehard fans are paying those kinds of prices.
The question isn’t if there are Rams fans in Los Angeles. We have seen them for the majority of this season and during the team’s blowout win over the Arizona Cardinals in their Wild Card game and celebrating at sports bars around the city after they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday to advance to the NFC Championship Game. You could fill up SoFi Stadium multiple times with the number of Rams fans that would love to go to that game.
No, the question is how many Rams fans would be willing to spend over $700 on a ticket to go to the NFC Championship Game and how many would be willing to spend over $7,000 on a ticket to the Super Bowl?
Does it make you bad or nonexistent fan, if you answer no to both of those questions?
We saw this firsthand three years ago when the Rams played the Saints in New Orleans in the NFC Championship Game before traveling to Atlanta to play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. Ticket prices were about the same for both games. No one expected there to be a Rams takeover at the Superdome but Super Bowl LIII felt like a Patriots home game.
Again, the Rams had only been back in Los Angeles for three years before their Super Bowl run. They had fans who filled the Coliseum but how many of those fans were willing to drop over $700 for an NFC Championship Game ticket and over $7,000 for a Super Bowl ticket (not including travel for both games)?
Opposing fans can lob their ridiculous “poor” and “poverty” takes at that (as if you’re “poor” for not wanting to spend four figures to go to a football game) but it’s hard to imagine anyone who became a fan of a team a few years ago spending that much on a team they just started supporting.
The 49ers have built one of the league’s most diehard fan bases over the past 76 years. The “49ers Faithful” have seen their team win five Super Bowls and generations of fans have been there from Kezar Stadium to Candlestick Park to Levi’s Stadium to watch the likes of Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Steve Young and now Deebo Samuel.
There’s a chance the Rams could have had that today. They came to Los Angeles in 1946 and were the city’s first professional sports franchise. They were arguably the most popular team in the city in 1980 after playing in Super Bowl XIV against the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Rose Bowl but left L.A. to move to Anaheim and ditched Southern California altogether 15 years later to move to St. Louis. They are effectively starting from scratch in Los Angeles and trying to win back a city and a generation of fans it lost.
Judging a team’s fan base is an inexact science. The Raiders turned their back on L.A. nearly 30 years and haven’t won a playoff game in 20 years but many of their fans in L.A. still cling to the team winning the city’s only Super Bowl two years after they moved to L.A. in 1984. That was the moment, they believe, Los Angeles became a Raiders town. The Raiders left the city a decade later and L.A. is still searching for its next Super Bowl winner.
The Rams’ fan base in Los Angeles will continue to increase in the city it plays in and represents with big playoff wins like they had over the Cardinals and Buccaneers. The Rams now enter the most critical stretch in the franchise’s history. They aren’t just two wins away from winning the Super Bowl at home but from winning over Los Angeles (again).
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