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Rams Try To Get Fans Off Couch, Into Dome
Rams try to get fans off couch, into dome
BY JIM THOMAS
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Over the first four games of the season, local television ratings for the Rams were up 51 percent over 2009, the largest increase of any NFL team.
Even with a diminished rating in Sunday's Meltdown in Motown — a 44-6 loss in Detroit — the Rams' average rating of 24.1 is the team's highest figure through five games since Scott Linehan's first Rams squad started 4-1 in 2006.
(The ratings figure is the percentage of homes with a TV set in the St. Louis area watching the game.)
With another home game this weekend, the challenge remains translating that television interest into ticket sales at the Edward Jones Dome.
"How do we bridge that gap?" said Kevin Demoff, the Rams' executive vice president of football operations.
Demoff said between 5,000 and 7,500 tickets remain for each of the Rams' remaining five home games. Sunday's game against San Diego, the four-time defending AFC West champ, is in the 5,000 area of unsold tickets. So is the Dec. 19 contest with Show-Me State rival Kansas City.
The Dec. 26 contest with San Francisco is in the 7,500 area, with the Oct. 31 Carolina game and the Nov. 21 Atlanta game somewhere in between. The Carolina game features the Isaac Bruce jersey retirement ceremony, and even if that game is televised locally, Demoff points out the Bruce ceremony won't be shown on live TV. You have to be in the stands to see it.
The Rams used a combination of corporate sponsorship, buying up some unsold tickets themselves, and some giveaways and promotions to get the first three games of the season on local TV. Demoff said the team is hoping for a similar arrangement this week with the San Diego game.
"We're going to be proactive trying to get every game on TV any way we can," Demoff said.
With what so far has been a noticeably improved product, Detroit game notwithstanding, the Rams want to get as much exposure as possible for that product. But there's only so many times you can tap into corporate sponsors. And only so many times the Rams will buy up unsold tickets before games start getting blacked out.
"And it's going to be a challenge without mass ticket buying," Demoff said.
Group sales have picked up following the home victories against Washington and Seattle. But the needle isn't moving on single-game sales. During the preseason, when both Rams home games were blacked out, the team experienced a decent walkup crowd on game day. But that hasn't been the case during the regular season, probably because the three home games so far have been on local television.
"It's nobody's responsibility to fill the dome but the Rams'," Demoff said. "And I would never chastise fans for not showing up. We haven't done our job. When you're 6-42 in 2007, 2008, 2009 — when it takes you two years to get a home win — those aren't stories you like to tell."
Since the move to St. Louis in 1995, the Rams' first 100 home games — regular-season and postseason — met NFL sellout requirements and were shown on local television. The streak ended in 2006, when a Christmas Eve contest against Washington became the first regular season blackout. Starting with that game, nine of 25 Rams home games were blacked out locally through the end of last season.
Obviously, much of that downturn can be attributed to the team's drastic downturn in victories. But the nation's economic woes also are a factor, not just in St. Louis but league-wide. Last season, 22 games around the NFL were blacked out locally. This year, eight games already have been blacked out (with Buffalo, Oakland, San Diego and Tampa Bay the affected cities).
In St. Louis, Demoff realizes it will take more than a couple of victories to get the stands filled once again.
"But when you see the TV ratings, you realize we've got to figure out a way to get those people that are sitting in front of their television sets into the dome," he said. "I believe people now see the direction of this team. They see a young team. Certainly having a quarterback as your No. 1 draft pick gets people excited."
Demoff says the club has worked hard to improve the game-day atmosphere at the dome as well. Last February, season ticket prices were reduced for 67 percent of the seats in the dome. Concession prices for hot dogs, beer and soda have been reduced.
"We're allowing people to bring in their own food for the first time," he said. "You can bring in water bottles for the first time."
The team also has worked to improve the game-day music and cut down on in-game scoreboard commercials. At the Seattle game Oct. 3, the team made FanVision handheld devices available for purchase for the first time. The devices allow fans to view instant replays from different angles, get updates on out-of-town games, get real-time stats, or view the NFL RedZone package.
"We've listened to a lot of fan feedback on ways to improve the game-day experience," Demoff said. "Not only in the stadium, but in your pocketbook. Hopefully, people will recognize that when they come. But the challenge is getting them to come. And getting them to see that this year is different. This organization is different. This team is different."
Of course, more 38-point defeats won't get that point across.
Re: Rams Try To Get Fans Off Couch, Into Dome
Alright can we strip the posting privilege of these guys. These pic fails are ruining the atmosphere of this forum and they look like trolls in disguise.
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