When it comes to building a strong and supportive local fanbase, the Los Angeles Rams are dealing with a surprisingly uphill battle.
While it might seem as though the Rams would have a fanbase waiting for them when they moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles in 2016, that wasn’t really the case. While they were called the LA Rams, they actually played their home game in Anaheim between 1980 and 1994 before moving to St. Louis. Meanwhile, the Raiders were LA’s home team for many years before they moved to Oakland (and now Las Vegas) and maintain a strong local fanbase. The Rams share a stadium with the Los Angeles Chargers, who have a fanbase cultivated from decades in San Diego. And you also have a decent San Francisco 49ers fanbase who can easily travel from the Bay Area to take over the stadium.
That was the case last week when the Rams were “caught off guard” by how many Niners fans invaded SoFi Stadium. Quarterback Matthew Stafford told reporters afterward that “It was a tough environment for us to communicate in, really, the whole second half,” which is not something you should have to say when you’re playing at home. The Rams ended up losing that game as well.
Stafford’s wife, Kelly, who has a podcast of her own called The Morning After, discussed the issue this week. She also shared a message with Rams fans for this weekend when the team hosts the Arizona Cardinals in the first round of the NFL playoffs. Kelly posted a clip from her podcast on Wednesday and wrote, “Please don’t sell you (sic) tickets to Arizona fans,” she wrote on an Instagram post featuring a clip from the show.
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“I have never seen so many of the opposing team’s fans at a game,” Kelly said. “We came from Detroit. There were a lot of good traveling teams there, but that was wild. … Matthew was on a silent count, Jimmy Garoppolo was not. It was crazy.
“It made it very hard for us because I guess we weren’t expecting to be on silent count.”
The good news for Kelly and the Rams is that it’s unlikely to see Cardinals fans show up in droves the way 49ers fans did. The bad news is that while the home-field advantage is a huge thing to get in the NFL playoffs, it’s only as good as the fans in the stands. And there’s a distinct possibility that the Rams could end up hosting the 49ers again if things play out a certain way, and that could help make a huge difference in how things play out.