There were a lot of empty seats at California stadiums during Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season, and the NFL is starting to get worried.
In Los Angeles, the Rams actually looked like a competent professional football team against the Indianapolis Colts. However, hardly anyone was at the Los Angeles Coliseum to witness their lack of ineptitude in person.
Los Angeles has football fever and they have it BAD pic.twitter.com/nvQOg1kp6l
— Clemzingis (@TheClemReport) September 10, 2017
Meanwhile, up in Santa Clara, California, almost everybody watching the 49ers get pounded by the Carolina Panthers decided to skip the second half.
Second half kickoff pic.twitter.com/sEQgbtfJIq
— Ann Killion (@annkillion) September 10, 2017
The problem for the 49ers is that the team now plays in Santa Clara, which is 40 miles from Candlestick Park in the outer reaches of the Bay Area. Everybody decided to get a head start on the hour-long drive home rather than watch another half of crappy football.
Down in L.A. the attendance problem is a bit more complex. Some of it has to do with the fact that the Rams are just an awful franchise. Some of it has to do with the fact that the Coliseum is a miserable place to watch NFL football. And some of it has to do with the fact that many people in L.A. don’t care about NFL football.
Regardless of the cause, according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the NFL is pretty concerned about all those empty seats:
NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart on the attendance in LA & SF: “Any time we empty seats that something we want to address.” Focused on sellouts.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 13, 2017
The league should be concerned. Last year television ratings were way down. Now fans in two of their biggest markets don’t want to go to the games. This is very bad for the brand.
The scary part, if you’re the NFL, is that it’s only going to get worse. The Chargers are having problems selling out a 27,000 soccer stadium. Nobody in Los Angeles really wanted them in the first place, and San Diego fans have disavowed the team.
Take a look at how many seats are available for below face value for the Chargers’ home opener this weekend:
When the Rams and Chargers move into their new stadium in Inglewood, that should help. But it’s not a perfect solution. One of these franchises is destined to become the red-headed step child of Los Angeles sports.
Let’s not forget about Oakland, either. Will Raiders fans show up at the Oakland Coliseum, knowing the team is relocating to Las Vegas in a few years? And speaking of Vegas, though it’s a few years off, you know the Raiders will have attendance problems there when they start sucking again.
Will all the relocations do permanent damage to the NFL brand in California? Stay tuned.
Hat Tip – [The Big Lead]