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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Rams Try To Bring Fans Back

    Rams try to bring fans back

    BY JIM THOMAS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    01/03/2010


    Four seasons into the Rams move to St. Louis, the bloom had worn off the horns. In 1998, the Rams were in the midst of their fourth consecutive losing season, and the needle was pointing down. Team management and various sponsors bought up thousands of tickets to keep the team's sellout streak alive

    Entering the 1999 season, it was nip-and-tuck to get the season opener against Baltimore televised locally. But just when things had reached a critical stage between the Rams and their fans, the gridiron miracle that was the Greatest Show on Turf rocketed the team to national prominence.

    More than a decade later, the Rams and their fans have reached another crossroads. The team is in the midst of a 6-41 free fall, hasn't had a winning season since 2003, and blackouts are becoming more commonplace.

    Sunday's season finale against San Francisco will be blacked out locally after falling far short of NFL sellout requirements. It's the third consecutive home game blacked out this season. Beginning with the 2006 home finale against Washington, nine of 25 regular-season home games have not made local television.

    During the height of the Greatest Show, the Rams used to brag privately that they didn't advertise because they didn't have to. Those days are long gone.

    "This organization for too long has taken fans for granted," said Kevin Demoff, the Rams' executive vice president of football operations. "Has not paid enough attention to sponsors in the community and to making sure that people were invested in the club. If people are invested in the club, winning will help.

    "But I think it's easy to throw your hands up and say, 'Well, if the club was winning, people would go.' It's our challenge to make sure that people want to go, win or lose. They may have a better time if we win."

    But as Demoff sees it, the idea is to get fans and sponsors "invested" to the point where they say: "This is our team. These are the Rams. Let's go down and enjoy the game-day experience."

    Win or lose. Of course, when you lose over and over and over again, all the bells and whistles in the world won't help. There has to be at least some expectation of winning, not the hopelessness that has enveloped Rams football. And with a much less glamorous home schedule on tap in 2010, the challenge to fill seats in the Edward Jones Dome has never been greater.

    "Great football cities, and this is a great football city, support their team through good years and bad years," Demoff said. "Now we may be pushing the brink of that with three bad years in a row.

    "But I promise you, if we do our job, fans will show up. They're very supportive. They care deeply. They call the fan comment line. You see them in the chat rooms and the blogs. We follow all that. We know there's a deep passion for the Rams."

    Demoff said the Rams are trying to tap into that passion in a variety of ways. Improvements in the game-day presentation were a start this season. In a way, Demoff hopes Sunday's Fan Appreciation Day will be a start toward the 2010 season.

    Fans attending the Rams-***** game can buy concessions and souvenirs at discounted prices. There will be several giveaways during the game, and several opportunities for fans to interact with players before and during the contest. Such promotions are commonplace in baseball and other sports, but almost unheard of in football.

    "We want to give (fans) a reward for coming, whether it's discounted concessions, or special in-game giveaways of jerseys," Demoff said. "Players on injured reserve are going to sign autographs in the Bud Light Party zone when the doors open.

    "There are going to be prizes given away during the game for trips and the like. We're really going to try to make it so that if you're at the game you're going to walk away feeling like you got a value for going."

    Demoff said focus groups of fans and season-ticket holders are planned during the offseason to see what else can be done to improve the game-day experience.

    "Maybe changing some of the food options," Demoff said. "Obviously, looking at ticket prices and where we're going to go with that. But we've got a lot of work to do to make sure the fan's voice is heard and that those changes are reflective for 2010."

    This season, the Rams became the first team in NFL history to face four consecutive unbeaten teams at home in Green Bay, Minnesota, Indianapolis, and New Orleans. At one time, they faced the Nos. 1-4 quarterbacks in NFL passer rating in Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning.

    Next season, another top quarterback in Philip Rivers comes to town with the San Diego Chargers, but otherwise there's not much sizzle on the home schedule.

    "The schedule takes on its own rhythm every year," Demoff said. "What looks like a good game or a bad game in January of the previous year has no impact on what's a good game in November or December of 2010.

    "On paper, I don't think Jets fans were excited about the Bengals coming to the Meadowlands Week 17. Obviously, that's changed now that it's a win-or-go-home game."

    Minnesota didn't loom as such a glamorous opponent this season until Favre joined the Vikings. New Orleans, despite all its offensive weapons, was 8-8 in 2008.

    "I want the building to be full of Rams fans anyway," Demoff said. "And I don't care who the opponent is. I want us to deliver a great experience. Have people excited to come cheer for the Rams. And to have people not selling their tickets in the secondary market. ... The dome has been that way in prior years."

    And that's the challenge ahead in the new decade.


  2. #2
    clarasDK is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams Try To Bring Fans Back

    If I just didn't live in Denmark..............

    Well at least there is no black outs on gamepass.

  3. #3
    NJ Ramsfan1 is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams Try To Bring Fans Back

    Kevin Demoff is doing his job- which is to do everything in his power to drum up fan interest to come to the Dome. However, I strongly disagree with his assertion that if it is made interesting enough, fans will show up win or lose. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    If a movie stinks, you walk out and take the loss- or at the very least gut it out and never watch the movie again. If you don't have fun at a theme park, you don't go a 2nd or a 3rd time. And if a football team stinks for a long period of time, drastic changes that lead to winning must be implemented- or one can expect the vast number of people to do something different with their discretionary income. A good fan tolerates some losing and understands every team has down years; a masochist continues to go to football games to watch a 6-41 team over the last three seasons. As the article says, no amount of bells and whistles will lure fans to a situation where you lose over and over again. And watching a losing team week after week just isn't fun. The blackouts illustrate this.

    While explanations for failure sometimes have merit, there are only so many times you can blame injuries, inexperience, bad luck or other adverse circumstances as reasons why you didn't get it done without it being a broken record. Steve Spagnuolo has done a decent job in some areas (purging the roster of a lot of dead weight, keeping up morale in tough times), and a poor job in others (uninspired play calling, not finding a way to eke out a couple of these close games). He has (rightly) been given much rope in his first year as head coach given the situation he inherited and the circumstances in which he took over. However, it will be totally unacceptable if the Rams do not show major improvement (minimum 5-6 wins) next season regardless of circumstances. Enough is enough. Spags has to show he is the guy to turn this thing around beyond a lot of "stay the course" rhetoric, or the bloom will be off the rose. Improvement must be shown on the field, and I'm not talking about the occasional close loss. Moral victories grew old a long time ago.

    Winning solves all problems, including filling stadiums to capacity.

  4. #4
    jkramsfan's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Try To Bring Fans Back

    NJRAMS, I somewhat agree with what your saying about the fans,but don't you think if the game was more exciting the fans would show or at least more fans,your right wins are what matters but if the Rams gave them something to cheer about during the game and even though they lost a couple 31-28 games I think the interest would be there,but the fans don't get anything close to that so you can give out cheap hot dogs and beer(which by the way would make me go) but you need to make the GAME exciting or the seats will continue to be empty.

  5. #5
    NJ Ramsfan1 is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams Try To Bring Fans Back

    Quote Originally Posted by jkramsfan View Post
    NJRAMS, I somewhat agree with what your saying about the fans,but don't you think if the game was more exciting the fans would show or at least more fans,your right wins are what matters but if the Rams gave them something to cheer about during the game and even though they lost a couple 31-28 games I think the interest would be there,but the fans don't get anything close to that so you can give out cheap hot dogs and beer(which by the way would make me go) but you need to make the GAME exciting or the seats will continue to be empty.

    I guess management has to do something to show they're trying & it's all a matter of what the fan is looking for, JK, but I can tell you from a personal standpoint, all the discounted merchandise and food mean nothing to me. If I lived near where the Rams play and had season tickets, WINS would be the only thing getting me to the stadium. Six straight years of losing records trumps any "sweeteners" management can come up with to lure me to the Dome.

  6. #6
    Mooselini's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Try To Bring Fans Back

    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post
    I guess management has to do something to show they're trying & it's all a matter of what the fan is looking for, JK, but I can tell you from a personal standpoint, all the discounted merchandise and food mean nothing to me. If I lived near where the Rams play and had season tickets, WINS would be the only thing getting me to the stadium. Six straight years of losing records trumps any "sweeteners" management can come up with to lure me to the Dome.
    Great post. Only a few cities can have a loser team and keep filling the stadium.

    Lets use Arizona for example. When the Cardinals stunk it up for so many years, you couldn't give tickets away. No one wanted to waste their time going to the stadium to watch them lose. Look now, they are one of the league's elite and selling out the stadium.

    Winning solves everything. That's simple. So for people to question the team's attendance really don't understand what is going on. Fans want to watch the team win, not get creamed week after week.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    Devaney, if you care about this team... fire the offensive coordinator!!!!

  7. #7
    FolsomFan is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams Try To Bring Fans Back

    I think a good start would be to win more than once in 26 games.

  8. #8
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    Re: Rams Try To Bring Fans Back

    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post
    I guess management has to do something to show they're trying & it's all a matter of what the fan is looking for, JK, but I can tell you from a personal standpoint, all the discounted merchandise and food mean nothing to me. If I lived near where the Rams play and had season tickets, WINS would be the only thing getting me to the stadium. Six straight years of losing records trumps any "sweeteners" management can come up with to lure me to the Dome.
    Dear NJ Ramsfan1, great post and bingo. Gimmicks are really not the answer. put a competitive product out there. There is not enough beer in the dome to numb the pain of this team and play of 2009.

  9. #9
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    gap
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    Re: Rams Try To Bring Fans Back

    Quote Originally Posted by Mooselini View Post
    Great post. Only a few cities can have a loser team and keep filling the stadium.

    Lets use Arizona for example. When the Cardinals stunk it up for so many years, you couldn't give tickets away. No one wanted to waste their time going to the stadium to watch them lose. Look now, they are one of the league's elite and selling out the stadium.

    Winning solves everything. That's simple. So for people to question the team's attendance really don't understand what is going on. Fans want to watch the team win, not get creamed week after week.
    I am not sure that any city now-days will support a losing team. KC was a city that was one of the hardest to get gameday tickets. Look at them now. Ticket prices, and in some case just the right to buy them, have made going to a game too expensive. If a team wants to charge more than 25$US for a seat, even lower bowl 50 yd line, they have to put a winning product on the field. Even if it was only .500 or better at home, and losing everywhere else, you have to be able to win home games in order to sell tickets on a regular basis.


    gap

  10. #10
    The Rammer's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Try To Bring Fans Back

    Hey, I go to every Rams game and always watch us lose on Sundays. I could spend my Sunday anywhere else, but I elect to spend it at the Edward Jones Dome to support the greatest team in the NFL. The least they could do was give my a Steven Jackson Pro Bowl poster (that was the giveaway from everybody upon exit).

  11. #11
    gap's Avatar
    gap
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    Re: Rams Try To Bring Fans Back

    Quote Originally Posted by The Rammer View Post
    Hey, I go to every Rams game and always watch us lose on Sundays. I could spend my Sunday anywhere else, but I elect to spend it at the Edward Jones Dome to support the greatest team in the NFL. The least they could do was give my a Steven Jackson Pro Bowl poster (that was the giveaway from everybody upon exit).
    Props to you. If I still lived in St. Louis, and could afford seaon tickets, I too would be there. Heck, I'd even be going downtown to see how cheap I could buy tickets from the "scalpers".

    Unfortunately most people aren't real fans, like those of us here. This team catered to the "I want to be seen" crowd when they started off, and they are now reaping the "benefits" of giving priority to PSL orders that came from certain zip codes. The people that would now still buy season tickets cannot do so without buying someone's PSL, and they probably don't think the team deserves that kind of loyalty.

    All things being equal, a large majority of just about any city wouldn't want to spend their money going to these games.


    gap

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