Is NFL to blame for LA Rams lack of home field advantage at SoFi Stadium?

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Los Angeles is one of the NFL’s most coveted sites, housing not one but two NFL franchises.  But the city of Los Angeles has been a bit reserved of late in their wholesale commitment to the recently returned LA Rams franchise. In this new world culture where the blame game is the top priority for social media, and social media drives our interactions now, the question has been asked: Whose to blame?

I hate to say it, but the culprit may be the NFL itself.

When the Rams moved to Los Angeles in 1946, they were vacating Cleveland, Ohio. That move was not very popular among NFL team ownership, but they agreed to the relocation to prevent competition with the mostly East Coast NFL. But the Rams suffered from the NFL rules that any home games that were not sellouts were blacked out of local television coverage.

Since that time, the Rams have moved to Anaheim California in 1980 and then moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1995. The Rams would eventually return later, some 20 years later.

Raider Nation to United Nations

Meanwhile, the Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles and played there in 1982.  They remained in Los Angeles until 1995 when then-owner Al Davis decided to return to Oakland. The Raiders and the Rams both left Los Angeles in 1995, and the city would remain without an NFL franchise for 20 years.

During the 20 years of their NFL drought, the residents were free to cheer for teams from any NFL Franchise, and the city was open territory for just about any NFL team. It was during this time that San Francisco became quite popular, playing just north. The Dallas Cowboys became popular too because they came to the area and they chose their training camp to position the team near the area.

The climate changed when then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger championed placing a new NFL team in Los Angeles. The NFL’s counteroffer, requiring two NFL teams to commit to playing for the city in much the same way as the NY Giants and NY Jets have done. But that soon became the bargaining chip for a number of NFL teams seeking new stadium deals from their host city.

The Seattle Seahawks, the Minnesota Vikings, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Buffalo Bills, and the St. Louis Rams were all linked to the city of Los Angeles at some point. How were the residents of the city supposed to suddenly embrace any one of six teams that may or may not move to the city?

LA Rams and LA Chargers

Ultimately, three NFL Franchises applied to relocate to the City of Angels. They were the San Diego Chargers (originally an AFL team from Los Angeles), the St. Louis Rams (moved from LA to St. Louis), and the Oakland Raiders (Moved from LA back to Oakland).

In January 2016, all three teams’ petitions were considered during an NFL Owners meeting on January 12 and 13, 2016. The NFL was in a deadlock for two rounds of voting, but after clarifications, a proposal was made for the LA Rams owner Stan Kroenke to build a new super stadium complex known as SoFi stadium, and to commit the Chargers franchise to time-share that stadium.

The LA Rams returned to the city in 2016, and the LA Chargers relocated to the city in 2019. Both teams moved into SoFi Stadium in 2020. That takes us to today.

Ravens/Rams history will be similar for a few years

While the Rams have a history in the city of Los Angeles, this city has a history with many NFL Teams. Much like the history of the Baltimore Ravens, a team that was formerly known as the Cleveland Browns that moved to Baltimore, the sudden arrival and assistance upon local television markets that they must shift from the affiliation from the Pittsburgh Steelers to their hated ally, the former-Browns-now-Ravens, this one will take time to convert.

The Ravens were not welcome in much of the territory that now cheers for them, because they had to prove to be successful, committed to the city of Baltimore, and ultimately, connect with the surrounding community. The LA Rams organization, coaches, and players have a rich tradition of doing so. But the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impact upon self-quarantining and social distancing, have limited the Rams’ efforts and impacts of winning residents over.

Will SoFi Stadium be a sea of Blue or Red? Who can tell at this point? After a week 18 game that was clearly more hostile to the Rams than the visiting San Francisco 49ers, tickets to the NFC Championship Game has been limited to residents of the Greater Los Angeles Area.

Why? Well, the LA Rams organization is attempting to ensure that their home game is more home field than visiting field. Limiting ticket sales is the only way to do so right now. But a more effective approach is to beat the San Francisco 49ers and keep beating them. That, unfortunately, takes time.

You can thank the NFL for the Red Invasion at SoFi Stadium. But you can thank the LA Rams losing streak to the Niners for that invasion this season to becoming an annual event.