It felt fantastic to wake up on New Year’s Day without a hangover. Thankfully the weather was also much brighter today and a lot more like what you’d expect it to be in Los Angeles. Today I was off to see some American Football, with a bit of sightseeing also thrown in.
I’ve never been to an NFL game before. A few years ago I had a ticket for a Dallas Cowboys game that I ended up not going to but that’s another story! Today the LA Rams were entertaining the Arizona Cardinals. The Rams were actually the St Louis Rams until last season until they showed up in LA. I hate the idea of moving sports teams away from a city, often simply for financial gain. However in this case the Rams were originally in LA before St Louis so I’ll let them off.
While a new stadium is currently being built at a cost of over £2 billion (which would pay for almost three Wembleys), the Rams are playing at the LA Coliseum. It’s located just south of downtown Los Angeles in an area that’s not supposed to be the best part of town. However there’s a bit of an opulent enclave around the stadium that includes the beautiful campus of the University of Southern California, some nice parkland and museums, and the Shrine Auditorium which has hosted the Oscars on a number of occasions. Not only was the LA Coliseum the site of Daley Thompson doing his thing during the 1984 Olympics, the same stadium also hosted the 1932 version of the Olympiad. It was additionally the scene of the dramatic finale to one of the earlier series of 24. The stadium doesn’t actually look too dissimilar from photos I’ve see of its 1932 appearance. My (relatively) cheap seat was actually a bench. Not that I’m complaining though. One of the main reasons why I wanted to attend the game was to see this historic stadium.
I’m aware that I sometimes go on about prices but today I genuinely thought that my eyes were deceiving me. Last summer (with it now being 2017),The Outside Lands festival were charging $12 a pint. LA Coliseum prices made that look like cheap night in Wetherspoons. There’s a huge banner at the stadium proclaiming Corona as the official cerveza of the LA Rams. A can of this would set you back $16. SIXTEEN AMERICAN DOLLARS. That’s for one can by the way, not a box of twenty like they sell in Tesco! Or £13.11 at the current exchange rate. I decided to give it a miss.
The Rams return to Los Angeles has been mixed and that’s probably putting it kindly. They started off the season OK but prior to today had lost six games on the bounce. Arizona haven’t fared much better and have hardly been pulling up any trees. With any sort of play-off chance long gone for both sides, today was the last game of season. The whole place had a bit of an end of season feel to it. I even had a whole bench to myself. Supposedly over 80,000 tickets had been sold but I doubt that 90,000-capacity stadium was more than two-thirds full. Tomorrow’s big college Rose Bowl game in nearby Pasadena tomorrow seemed to be the talk of the football fans and the hottest ticket in town. Today the Rams seemed particularly lacklustre with the game finishing 44-6 to Arizona. For me the highlight was a disallowed touchdown, resulting in an overeager firework operator setting off some celebratory pyrotechnics, only for it to then be chalked off! Overall I quite enjoyed the experience. My main gripe about American Football is that the game can be lacking in flow due to its stop-start nature. However this seemed less annoying when watching the game in person.
Heading back into the city, I got off the tram a stop early to have a look at Grand Olympic Auditorium. This famous old sporting venue was also the setting for a Rage Against the Machine live DVD. Its location isn’t the best, somewhere in between the University of Southern California and the up-and-coming Downtown Los Angeles. Nowadays the building has been converted into a Korean Christian church, which is obviously preferable to it being demolished.