On Saturday, the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers meet for the first time since the two teams both began marking out their corners of the City of Angels. Unfortunately, Saturday's game couldn't come at a worse time in terms of wrangling up and ramping up the newly formed city rivalry.
First of all, the LA Dodgers are playing on Saturday evening down the road, and LA's boys in blue are on pace to break history and finish with the best record in the history of Major League Baseball. LA loves a winner, and it's tough to choose a preseason NFL game at the LA Memorial Coliseum over the white hot LA Dodgers chasing history in full swing.
The Dodgers, though, do play seemingly every other day, so that occurrence alone doesn't necessarily spoil the NFL party on Saturday. But the Dodgers aren't the only competition. A highly anticipated event in Las Vegas on the same night is sure to keep local sports fans either flocking to Nevada for the weekend or glued to television sets across Southern California.
Yes, Floyd Mayweather taking on Conor McGregor on Saturday night in a highly anticipated fight, and the Rams and Chargers game is effectively competing with a fight that is hoping to break pay-per-view subscription records. Worst of all, this entire conflict could have been avoided by simply adjusting the kickoff time.
The Dodgers have their first pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers at 6:10 p.m. Pacific Time, and the big boxing extravaganza is scheduled to start its show at 6 p.m. Pacific Time. Both those events, unquestionably, mean more than a preseason exhibition game between two NFL teams fighting to establish a lasting fan base.
The Rams and Chargers kickoff at 5 p.m. Pacific Time, and it is clearly hurting local interest in the NFL exhibition game.
Of course, the simplest solution would have been to simply move the preseason kickoff time to 1 p.m. or 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time and avoid going head-to-head with sporting events that carry far greater meaning in the minds of the city's casual sports fans—the exact audience both teams are trying to add to their respective fan bases.
One has to wonder if it is hubris on the part of the NFL or simply ignorance of external sporting events that the kickoff time was not changed. If nothing else, the evening kickoff time is curious. In the regular season, the Rams play all of their home games at either 1:00 p.m. or 1:25 p.m. So, if preseason is preparation for the regular season, one would think it makes sense to play the exhibition games at the same times they would be played during the regular season. How exactly does playing an evening game at the LA Coliseum help prepare the team for early afternoon kickoffs when the games count?
Ultimately, one can hardly be surprised that third-party ticket retailer Stubhub was selling tickets to Saturday's preseason game for as low as $6 on Friday (note: at the time of publication, prices had "jumped" to $7). Considering the competition, even tickets that cost less than most fast food meals may have trouble selling before kickoff.
The concept of the LA Rams hosting the LA Chargers at the LA Coliseum for a preseason game still looks great on paper, but the execution of that idea has been poorly thought out and isn't going to do either team any favors in terms of building their respective local fan bases.