When the Rams kick off against Washington at the Coliseum on Sunday afternoon, somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 fans will be there to watch in a stadium that seats more than 90,000.
At some point, someone will innocently take a crowd shot picture, as is the norm across the sports world these days. That photo will get shared on social media and attendance geeks from one end of the country to the other will begin what’s become a weekly debate 10 weekends a year.
“See, Los Angeles doesn’t care about the Rams and the NFL,” a bunch of fingers will hastily type.
But the fingers lack nuance, perspective or context.
Some 15 miles away in Carson, at nearly the same time, the Chargers will play their first home game as members of the Los Angeles community against the Miami Dolphins. The official capacity of their temporary stadium, the StubHub Center, is 27,000. The announced crowd will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 25,000+, a figure you might as well get used to because it will be roughly the same number most of the season.
Some people will look at it and howl.
“The Chargers can’t even sell out a 27,000-seat stadium,” their voices will scream. “They’ll never succeed in L.A.”
Again, the screams lack nuance, perspective and context.
Especially given the long-play approach each team is taking in Los Angeles.
Upon relocating here from St. Louis and San Diego, the Rams and Chargers understood the challenges they faced finding their long-term place among a crowded sports landscape. And they understood that three factors would ultimately play the biggest role: Creating an L.A. identity, moving into the state-of-the-art $2.6 billion venue being built by Rams owner Stan Kroenke and consistently fielding compelling, entertaining football teams.
“It’s not something that will happen in a year or two,” said Chargers owner Dean Spanos. “It’s a process that will take years. And we understand that.”
As for the attendance this year, some context…