Joe Curley, USA TODAY NETWORK
Published 6:40 a.m. ET Jan. 11, 2019
Sean McVay has a favor to ask the Rams’ season ticket holders this week: Resist cashing in on the team’s success this season by selling tickets to Saturday night’s divisional playoff game to Cowboys fans.
“Don’t do that,” McVay flatly said on Tuesday.
The Rams’ return to Los Angeles three years ago was certainly celebrated by the long-suffering fan base they abandoned in 1994.
But Southern California-based fans of the league’s other 31 teams have also enjoyed the NFL’s return to the region. Visits by Philadelphia and Green Bay over the past two seasons drew droves of green-clad visitors to the Coliseum, memorably producing a college-like atmosphere at USC’s football cathedral.
The Cowboys, however, could represent an even stiffer test to the Rams’ home-field advantage on Saturday.
“We’ve had great turnouts at home this year,” McVay said. “It’s been great atmospheres and environments, but Dallas is one of those franchises that travels really well.”
More importantly, “America’s Team” has its own history in the greater Los Angeles region.
Despite being located more than 1,200 miles east, Dallas has pitched its training camp in Ventura County, north of Los Angeles, for 39 of the past 55 summers.
“We’ve got thousands of fans that are generational in Los Angeles,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on Dallas’ 105.3 FM The Fan. “We do feel very comfortable going to Los Angeles playing. That’s not to say the Rams are going to make it comfortable for us.”
The Cowboys trained on the campus of California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, nearby where the Rams built their current football headquarters, for nearly the entirety of Tom Landry’s tenure as head coach.
“I used to carry (former Cowboys tight end) Billy Joe DuPree’s helmet from the dorm to the practice field,” said Bob Froio, a Cowboys fan from nearby Simi Valley.
With Jones as owner, the Cowboys have set up camp in nearby Oxnard 13 times since 2001.
Jose Espinoza, a Cowboys fan from Oxnard, says the team’s connection with the city is unique.
“For us to have a professional team practicing in our backyard, it’s an amazing feeling,” Espinoza said. “It gives us something to look forward to every summer, and we want to support them.”
Five years ago, Espinoza had a giant Cowboys logo, featuring Landry, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman and a cheerleader, tattooed across his back in a show of support.
The impact Cowboys fans could make on Saturday was felt in the hours after Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey missed a potentially game-winning field goal against Philadelphia on Sunday, setting Dallas up with the matchup in Los Angeles.
Froio was watching the game at home with his brother-in-law, a fellow Cowboys fan.
“We looked at each other and said ‘Hey, we should grab tickets,’ ” Froio said.
Within moments, Froio, who attended the Rams’ first regular-season home game against Seattle in 2016, received an email from the Rams’ ticket services.
Other Angelenos had the same idea. Within hours of Parkey’s miss, tickets on the secondary market nearly doubled in value.
By Thursday, the average price of a ticket for the game was $708, making it the most expensive divisional-round buy of this decade, according to TicketIQ.com.
“We know the Rams are building a following out there quickly,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “But they’re just getting going out there again, and hopefully that will pay off for us.
“We’ve been going out just north of L.A. for quite some time out in Oxnard. Hopefully some of those tickets will be floating around and end up in the hands of Cowboys fans.”
Rams season ticket holder Joey Velasco, who is also from Oxnard, has seen the impact opposing fans have had on the atmosphere at the Coliseum over the past three seasons.
He was proud of Rams fans’ turnout for the Monday night win over Kansas City but isn’t concerned about a potential invasion from Cowboys fans on Saturday.
“I’m just glad they’re back in LA and it’s important to Southern California,” Velasco said of the Rams. “It’s a playoff game. The way I feel, they’ve got to get over that hump of winning their first playoff game. Once they get that threshold and beat the Cowboys, I think we’ll go to the Super Bowl.”
Cowboys fans are expected to fill 31 percent of the Coliseum’s capacity, according to Vivid Seats.
Ticket brokers have picked up on the story line to move supply. On Thursday, StubHub sent out a “RAMS ALERT!” mobile push, telling potential Rams fans that the team needs ”every fan there on Saturday.”
It’s safe to assume that McVay would approve of that message.
“We’ve been so appreciative of the support that they’ve shown us throughout this year, and it means a lot,” McVay said. “Being able to have that home-field advantage is something that we truly cherish. Hopefully they’ll make us feel that way on Saturday night and we’ll give them a product they deserve.”
Source: “Los Angeles” – Google News