The Los Angeles Rams (4-9) are woefully bad and even worse to watch. Losers of eight of their last nine, yesterday’s blowout loss to the Atlanta Falcons (8-5) at home seemed to have officially capitulated the season. That’s a problem for the future of this franchise that will settle in its new stadium in Inglewood for the 2019 season at City of Champions Stadium.
City of Champions Stadium, like MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford is privately funded. No public funding is involved and tax dollars are not used in the construction of what will be a $3 billion stadium. It will host Super Bowl LV in 2021, College Football Playoff games, the NCAA Final Four and hundreds of concerts and events.
The Los Angeles Rams and HKS Architects have broken ground on a new stadium in Inglewood, California. https://t.co/OYUYi2Wxf1
— NAMCsocal (@NAMCsocal) November 23, 2016
Still, the backers of the new stadium are LA Rams fans, specifically Rams season ticket holders and those “die-hard” supporters and businesses that want to invest their money into the team.
Here’s how it works: The Rams expect every seat (or most of the seats) in the new City of Champions Stadium to require a personal seat license, or PSL. A PSL is a one-time fee a season ticket owner pays just for the right to buy a seat.
According to CBS Los Angeles, “On top of that fee, fans will be required to pay for the seat. It’s a practice first used by the St. Louis Rams.”
It’s a practice used at MetLife Stadium, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara and at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas home of the Dallas Cowboys. The prices of the PSLs for those stadiums ranged from $20,000 to $150,000–per seat, without even buying the actual season tickets yet. All of this money is used to fund new stadiums without using tax dollars. If (and it appears at this point a matter of when) the San Diego Chargers move to Los Angeles for 2017, PSLs will also be used for Chargers season ticket holders in order to help fund the new stadium in Inglewood.
Back to the LA Rams. At one point during yesterday’s home game against the Falcons, the Rams were down 42-0. There are teams with worse records than the Rams, but even the Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers show some fight, some team unity and a togetherness through tough stretches. The Rams lack that. It shows when stadium attendance at Rams games is drastically poorer than temporary co-tenants USC Trojans.
Coliiseum crowd at Rams game resembles crowd at a USC game..in final minutes of a USC blowout…lots of empty seats
— Bill Plaschke (@BillPlaschke) December 11, 2016
The Rams are losing more than just games. The Rams are the new show in town–again, for the first time–and any sort of dedicated base must be built from the ground up. A young generation of NFL fans in Los Angeles has never had the opportunity to pick a team, and now this train-wreck is forced upon them.
Wealthy, would-be PSL purchasers can’t help but feel alienated by a directionless owner. Jeff Fisher is no longer the head coach as of December 12th, a step in the right direction. The team mortgaged a chunk of its near-future draft picks in order to select “franchise quarterback” Jared Goff who is playing with no offensive line, no big play threats to throw to and a defense that can’t get off the field.
In order for PSLs to be sold at what is expected to be around $50,000 a ticket (and consider most season ticket holders purchase four tickets, each at that price), the Rams have to generate buzz in Los Angeles in the seasons leading up to the 2019 opener.
Buzz comes with winning. Buzz comes with confidence and direction. The LA Rams are so deep in a hole, it’s hard to see just when and where they’ll be able to dig themselves out of it.
Michael Berns is Editor in Chief of Endzonescore.com. He also contributes to college football writing: particularly covering the Illinois Fighting Illini and all things BigTen. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter –@MichaelBerms.