Los Angeles Rams' Kevin Demoff says team has work to do in Los Angeles market

Los Angeles Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff believes the team can eventually become as popular in the L.A. market as the Dodgers and Lakers, but he stressed that it won't happen overnight.

Even if the Rams win Super Bowl LVI in their home stadium.

"I absolutely believe that we can be at the level the Dodgers and Lakers have been and continue to be," Demoff said during an hourlong Zoom session with reporters on Wednesday. "But those teams have [had] decades of success and championships and building a fan base and building a deep, multicultural fan base. Stars, legends, Hall of Famers and building on consistency. ... The next two weeks are important, but so is 2022, and so is 2023.

"You cannot get to be at the pinnacle of this market by having one great season. You get to the pinnacle of this market by having great season after great season after great decade after great decade -- and building fans and generations of fans with that. That only comes with sustained success and sustained investment in the market, in the community, in schools. Building relationships. That's not overnight."

Demoff said the Rams are "scratching the surface of what they can become" in terms of popularity, which he believes can rise to the level of one of the world's 10 biggest sports brands. He noted that they're still in the infancy of their current iteration.

The team spent nearly five decades in Los Angeles, before relocating to St. Louis in 1994 then returning to L.A. in 2016. This marks the Rams' fourth trip to the playoffs and their second Super Bowl appearance in the six seasons since they've been back in L.A., where team owner Stan Kroenke built $5 billion SoFi Stadium in neighboring Inglewood.

The Rams will be only the second team to play in a Super Bowl at their home stadium -- joining last year's Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- when they face the Cincinnati Bengals on Feb. 13.

"I think it's an unprecedented opportunity for the Los Angeles Rams," Demoff said. "When you get a chance to play in the Super Bowl, that always helps win fans' hearts and minds. When you get a chance to host a Super Bowl, that obviously helps elevate your brand, the SoFi Stadium brand, the NFL in Los Angeles as a whole. When you combine those two, it's an unbelievably powerful mix to develop that next generation of fandom."

Demoff cited the local television ratings for last week's NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers as a testament to the Rams' growth in the L.A. market.

"Close to 2 million Angelenos were watching the game," he said, calling that an "amazing" number. "That still means that 18 million Angelenos weren't. So I think that's the challenge of the organization: How do you continue to make those inroads?"

While the TV ratings for last week's game were strong, 49ers fans appeared to at least match -- if not outnumber -- Rams fans at SoFi Stadium. That also was the case when the two teams met there in Week 18.

"Those 10 regular-season and postseason games, we had eight amazing buildings," Demoff said. "That atmosphere against the Arizona Cardinals for our wild-card game on Monday night was one of the best true Los Angeles sports atmospheres I've been in. But all you have to do, if we're being really honest, is look at Week 18 and look at the NFC Championship Game and say we have work to do. Too many 49ers fans in that building. And is that a reflection upon decades of being gone in Los Angeles and kids growing up rooting for different teams, the 49ers' success? Absolutely. It's a great credit to the 49ers.

"It's also a reminder to every person in our organization of the work we have to do. Until that building is 100% Rams fans for every game, until it looks like the wild card for every game, we're going to have work to do."