Rams aim­ing for a bet­ter fan ex­pe­ri­ence

Team of­fi­cials want to keep at­ten­dance at about 70,000 for games at Coli­seum.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Gary Klein gary.klein@la­times.com Twit­ter: @la­timesklein

Rams coach Sean McVay re­cently vis­ited the Coli­seum for the first time and was struck by the his­tory.

“You can feel the en­ergy here,” he said.

The buzz was in ev­i­dence last sea­son when the Rams drew more than 90,000 fans for their first pre­sea­son game and first reg­u­lar-sea­son game.

Crowds thinned con­sid­er­ably as what turned into a 4-12 cam­paign wore on.

McVay, new de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Wade Phillips and sev­eral other off­sea­son per­son­nel ad­di­tions are ex­pected to help the Rams im­prove their en­ter­tain­ment value, if not their record, in their sec­ond year back in Los An­ge­les.

But if all goes to plan, team of­fi­cials said, overly large crowds will not be an is­sue.

The Rams say that to im­prove the fan ex­pe­ri­ence, they are plan­ning to make avail­able about 70,000 tick­ets for home games, about 10,000 fewer than last sea­son.

“Around 70,000 is that real op­ti­mal op­er­at­ing ca­pac­ity to where you can de­liver a great foot­ball ex­pe­ri­ence but also de­liver a great fan ex­pe­ri­ence,” Jake Bye, the Rams’ vice pres­i­dent of con­sumer sales and mar­ket­ing, said Mon­day af­ter the team an­nounced a pub­lic sea­son-ticket sale.

Bye said feed­back from fans, and in­for­ma­tion gained in con­ver­sa­tions with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from USC — which op­er­ates the Coli­seum — should re­sult in im­prove­ments in park­ing, en­trance and move­ment about the sta­dium and con­ces­sions.

“We want to de­liver the best ex­pe­ri­ence we can,” Bye said, “and that doesn’t al­ways mean putting as many peo­ple in the build­ing as you can.”

Bye said the team has the “flex­i­bil­ity to go be­yond” its plan on a “case-by-case ba­sis” such as a play­off push or when the Rams are play­ing a pop­u­lar op­po­nent.

The Coli­seum’s ca­pac­ity will be re­duced this sea­son by the ad­di­tion of two video boards at the peri­style end of the sta­dium. The venue is due to un­dergo a ma­jor ren­o­va­tion at the end of the sea­son.

The Rams last sea­son said they had sold 70,000 sea­son tick­ets.

But the clamor to see the NFL’s re­turn to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia for the first time in more than two decades faded as the Rams lost 11 of their fi­nal 12 games, in­clud­ing six at home.

Bye and other Rams of­fi­cials would not dis­close how many sea­son-ticket hold­ers did not re­new.

“There was some nor­mal at­tri­tion to be ex­pected af­ter the per­for­mance of the team on the field, which cer­tainly wasn’t what we ex­pected,” Bye said.

But Bye said some at­tri­tion came from sea­sonticket hold­ers who chose to re­new but at fewer than the max­i­mum eight tick­ets they pur­chased in 2016.

In April, the Rams an­nounced that they were mak­ing sea­son tick­ets avail­able to those on the wait­ing list. On Mon­day, they an­nounced a pub­lic sale through their web­site.

Sea­son-ticket prices re­main the same, Bye said. Last year, pack­ages ranged from $360 to $2,025.

Fans can pay half the price upon pur­chase and the re­main­ing half the next month.

In ad­di­tion, the Rams are of­fer­ing sin­gle-game group sales.

Pa­trick T. Fal­lon For The Times

FANS CHEER dur­ing the Rams’ home opener against the Seat­tle Sea­hawks on Sept. 18, 2016, at the Coli­seum. The Rams plan to sell fewer tick­ets to home games.

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