LOS ANGELES (AP) — When Kevin Demoff starts listing the reasons Los Angeles can become a Rams hometown again, it’s pretty hard not to buy what he’s selling.
After all, the talkative Rams COO has a tantalizing product to offer this week.
The Los Angeles Rams have a star-studded roster, a charismatic young coach and a risk-taking general manager. They played exciting and innovative football in a half-decade of winning seasons and championships, culminating Sunday with their second Super Bowl appearance in four years.
And this Super Bowl? It coincidentally takes place at SoFi Stadium, the 2-year-old home ground of the Rams and the centerpiece of a multi-billion dollar football mecca being built by Rams owner Stan Kroenke.
“If it was a Hollywood script, it would be thrown out because no one would believe it,” Demoff said.
All that’s missing is a triumphant ending that would cap off this epic journey – and set up a whole lot of sequels.
The Rams returned home to Southern California in 2016 with a grand vision that extends far beyond the confines of their lavish arena.
They already have a passionate local fanbase – far larger than perceived by uneducated national prospects. But the Rams want to be the footballing peers of basketball’s Lakers and baseball’s Dodgers, two global sports brands and by far the two most popular sports institutions among the roughly 19 million residents of the vast Los Angeles metropolitan area. .
The Chargers, who arrived in 2017, share those goals, but the Rams have a huge head start that could become almost insurmountable on Sunday. The Rams believe this SoFi Super Bowl will be a catalyst for realizing their greatest ambitions in Inglewood and beyond.
“I think this is an unprecedented opportunity for the Los Angeles Rams,” Demoff said. “When you get the chance to play in a Super Bowl, it always helps win hearts and minds. When you get the chance to host a Super Bowl, it obviously helps elevate your brand. … When you combine those two , it’s an incredibly powerful mix to grow that next generation of fandom.
While the Rams have already managed to create a very attractive product – they even have flashy, fashion-forward uniforms for the sizable portion of fans drawn to sports fashion – they all realize that the most irresistible item for any fan is a championship. Ring.
And then another. And then another.
If the Rams earn the first Super Bowl win of their two eras in Los Angeles on Sunday, they’re confident it will be a watershed moment for a team that wants to be LA’s football team for generations.
“It’s super impactful for kids growing up, for new fans growing up,” Rams wide receiver Robert Woods said. “That’s how you become their favorite team. This is how you get long loyal fans. You get rings. You get trophies.
Woods knows a lot about the people who live and die for LA sports: He’s a Los Angeles native and a product of USC who joined the Rams in 2017 in the same offseason as Sean McVay, left tackle Andrew Whitworth and rookie receiver Cooper Kupp, forming the foundation of this football powerhouse.
Woods will miss the Super Bowl with a knee injury, but he hopes to see the Rams take the next step in the heart of his city.
“For me, growing up in LA, it’s the championship city,” Woods said. “Seeing the Lakers, Shaq and Kobe dominate. See the Dodgers dominate. See the Kings win their championships. I feel like it’s time for us. We have to be part of this LA legacy, this LA story. You have to win championships in Los Angeles.
“We could win NFC championships. You might win playoff games, but that’s not what we do here in Los Angeles. I feel like we’re winning championships. We make our fans proud. We make them loyal fans, and this is how you do it: you win championships, you organize parades in Figueroa (street).
The Rams have been realistic about what it takes to achieve the place they seek in a city’s sports hierarchy with incredibly fragmented fan loyalty after a 21-year absence from the NFL. Demoff has few illusions about changing the minds of the millions of Generation X Raiders fans in Los Angeles, or the midwestern transplants who cling to their cold-weather teams in their sunny new home.
“The most important thing we can do to build this franchise after 20 years away is capture the next generation of fans,” Demoff said. “There are so many fans who grew up from 1995 to 2016 without a team to support. … What it’s about are the 8, 9, 10 year old kids growing up wearing Cooper Kupp jerseys, wearing Aaron Donald jerseys and becoming lifelong Rams fans.
Sunday is the most important moment in this six-year quest, but it is only a moment. While observers watch the Rams’ aggressive roster-building strategies and wonder when unpaid bills will come due, the Rams believe they have a business model that can win indefinitely, especially with McVay in charge.
They also believe the wins and attention they garnered over this exciting five-year span have sown the seeds that will blossom into something that can reach the heights currently achieved by Los Angeles’ most beloved teams.
“I absolutely believe we can be at the level that the Dodgers and Lakers have been and continue to be,” Demoff said. “These teams have had decades of success building a deep, multicultural fan base. Stars, legends, Hall of Famers and building consistency. The next two weeks are important, but so is 2022, and so is 2023.
“You can’t get to the top of this market by having one great season. You get to the top of this market by having a great season after a great season, after a great decade, after a great decade, and building generations fans with it.