THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- It isn't just a division title that the Los Angeles Rams can clinch this weekend. They can also secure the first NFL playoff game in L.A. in nearly 25 years.
If the Rams wrap up the NFC West on Sunday -- with a either a win over the Tennessee Titans or a loss by the Seattle Seahawks -- tickets for a home playoff game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum would become made available the day after Christmas. Season-ticket holders would be given first priority, followed by those who made deposits either for 2018 season tickets or for games at the new stadium in Inglewood, California. What remains would be made available to the general public.
Kevin Demoff, the Rams' chief operating officer, said he has seen the buzz surrounding his team begin to pick up, anecdotally through random fan sightings and statistically through merchandise sales.
"I think people are excited, but look, we have a lot of work to do," Demoff said. "The buzz will grow if we do our job, and it will die if we don't do our job. There's a lot of work in front of this team."
The foremost priority, of course, is winning, which would give the Rams their first division title since 2003.
The Rams capped ticket sales at around 65,000 this year, even though the Coliseum can hold more than 90,000 fans. For the playoffs, the team is considering increasing available tickets to the low 70,000s. The Rams would need dispensation from the NFL to do so, but that isn't expected to be a problem given the Coliseum's size.
The Rams, however, will not go to capacity, citing logistical issues that ruined the fan experience on days when they sold around 90,000 seats last season.
"The building showed last year when we had 92,000 in it that it really just doesn’t handle that well from a concession standpoint, from a point of sale, from an ingress-egress, from the gates," Demoff said. "The other question we get asked is, ‘Well, USC does it.’ It’s a very different experience for USC. Part of it is they don’t sell alcohol, so there’s not as much people to go to concessions. People tailgate, they park on campus, there’s a student section of 10,000 people. They don’t gauge fan-experience questionnaires; you’re still going to return to USC as a student if your experience isn’t great.
"We face a lot of different challenges than USC for a game that size. And while it would be great to go to 92,000, and I’m certain that our fan base would react that way, I think the optimal fan experience number has to stay closer to 70."
The Rams will play out of the Coliseum for two more seasons, during which the facility will undergo major renovations that will limit capacity to around 70,000 anyway. The $2.6 billion stadium they'll share with the Los Angeles Chargers will open in 2020, and the Rams are expected to begin selling personal seat licenses shortly after their season concludes.
Personal seat licenses (PSLs) are a one-time fee that is paid for the right to purchase season tickets. Demoff wouldn't disclose the cost, but in August the Los Angeles Times cited an official document that listed those prices between $175,000 and $225,000 per seat, the most expensive in the sport. Those numbers, the team cautioned, were still under review at the time and might be totally different upon finalization.
Demoff said the Rams and Chargers will sell PSLs for the new stadium "completely independent of each other."
The initial plan called for the Rams to place PSLs on sale in the fall, but Demoff said they opted against that because they didn't want to confuse the fans by potentially introducing playoff tickets and PSLs at around the same time. That seemed like a far-fetched notion heading into the year, with the Rams coming off 10 consecutive losing seasons and a 4-12 showing. But they have thrived under first-year coach Sean McVay, sitting at 10-4 and leading the NFL in point differential.
It's now realistic to imagine what a playoff game would feel like in L.A.
Demoff pointed to the Dec. 10 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, though at least half the stadium seemed to be made up of fans cheering for the opposing team.
"Yes, there were a good number of Eagles fans, but there was significant energy and buzz around that," Demoff said. "We expect a playoff game would be very similar, no matter who the opponent was."