For more than two decades, there was no NFL team in Los Angeles.
After many fits and starts, pro football finally returned this year. Notions that L.A. was not a pro-football town were put to rest after more 70,000 season tickets were snapped up in just six hours and most of the few remaining single game seats went quickly as well.
“To sell out of season tickets in the first six hours upon our return to Los Angeles is both humbling and a reminder of how excited Angelinos are about the return of the Rams and the NFL,” Kevin Demoff, Rams chief operating officer, told the Los Angeles Times.
However, after a dismal season, much of that excitement seems to be gone. Many season ticket holders have not been showing up to games and they've had trouble unloading their tickets. The number of empty seats has been mocked on social media.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Embarrassing. They should move this team to a bigger market like Los Angeles. Oh, wait. <a href="https://t.co/Oocjnzhs5m">pic.twitter.com/Oocjnzhs5m</a></p>— Matt Sebek (@MattSebek) <a href="https://twitter.com/MattSebek/status/808064382416601089">December 11, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Tickets for Sunday's season finale against the Arizona Cardinals are going for as little as $19 on the secondary market compared to more than $100 for the season opener in September.
"I've had trouble selling our tickets for every game," said Manuel Robles, who bought eight season tickets to share with his friends and family. "I blame it on the fact they are not doing so well."
Like many other season ticket holders, Robles purchased the season tickets with the intention of reselling some tickets to recoup his costs. He said he has no particular allegiance to the Rams – he's a Dallas Cowboys fan – and is unlikely to renew his tickets, especially if the San Diego Chargers move to Los Angeles. His wife is a Denver Broncos fan, and that team is in the Chargers' division.
"The main reason for buying the tickets was we just wanted to see some football games," said Robles.
Season ticket holder Cameron Chow said he has had a similar experience. "It's hard to sell tickets for face value," said Chow. "The market for these tickets is pretty low."
Chow said he does not plan to renew for 2017. "If I were a diehard Rams fan, than I would. But I'm more into basketball," he said.
Since the renewal process does not start until early next year, the Rams do not yet know what renewal rate they'll see, according to Jake Bye, Rams vice-president of consumer sales and marketing.
"Certainly the hope is to keep all our season ticket members," said Bye. "That's our focus week-to-week. We spend a ton of time and energy listening to our fans."