When it comes to living in Southern California, I am definitely "that guy." You know the type: lived on the East Coast their entire lives, moved to paradise and proceeds to perform annoying activities like go to the beach on a Wednesday in January or drink wine watching a perfect sunset in November or wear a hoodie to a baseball game when it's a brisk 68 degrees at night in June. My girlfriend and I moved here with the purpose of performing all of those activities for ourselves; the obnoxious social media posts and not-so-humble bragging about them are simply collateral damage. However, there's a price that comes with living nearly 3,000 miles from all of your favorite sports teams: it is extremely difficult to attend a game.
So when the NFL finally released the 2017 schedule in April, I knew games were coming my way, I just needed to know when. Having two games in Los Angeles, a mere two hour trot from my home in San Diego was tremendous, but also a bonus game for me to attend in Seattle became very real. After chronicling the adventures at FedEx last month, I thought it would be interesting to cross-reference that experience with other venues around the league. So sit back and enjoy "Behind Enemy Lines: Part 1- Bad Team/Old Stadium." Part 2 (Great Team/Great Stadium) vs Seattle and Part 3 (Mediocre Team/Soccer Stadium) vs the Chargers will be coming soon.
To give a quantitative report of these stadiums, I decided to break them down into eight different categories and culminate with an overall grade. Each category will be judged on a scale of 1-7, with seven being the highest grade (I know that seems super arbitrary, but trust me, it's done with purpose).
The Los Angeles Coliseum is located on the campus of the University of Southern California, which happens to reside in South Central, LA. Now, if you've ever seen a gangsta movie from the 1990s, you may view this as problematic, but I promise you, at 11:00am on a Sunday with cops everywhere, it's fine. The campus itself is very nice and what you would expect from a private school. It's proximity to the freeway is cool, but LA traffic is omnipresent. I happened to travel on a party bus with 50 fellow Washington fans and we arrived early to very few hiccups.
As stated earlier, the stadium is literally on the USC campus, thus the tailgate commenced on the grass outside of what appeared to be a student union building. We later audibled to an area known as "Lot 6," which was much larger and more of the traditional parking lot variety. There were scores of fans from "both sides" (Trump voice), and the vibe was jovial. A multitude of grills were sizzling and the fellowship among all fans was welcoming. For those that have tailgated at FedEx, the overall area was considerably smaller.
"Safety" (OK, the ability to sh*t-talk without repercussion): 7/7
The Rams didn't land on LA, LA landed on them. It is not up for debate: Los Angelenos do not care about the artists formerly known as the St. Louis Rams. That was made abundantly clear by the brash -OK, obnoxious- battle cries coming from those clad in burgundy and gold. There may or may not have been a tall, drunk dude in a Josh Norman jersey heckling (politely, of course) entire end zone sections for three consecutive hours. My bad.
Entering the venue: 6.5/7
There is nothing worse than leaving a tailgate fired up and ready to watch some football, only to be derailed by a half-hour entrance process. The lines at the Coliseum were well-staffed and quick. Though, to be fair, having only 50,000 attendees at a 100,000 capacity venue should always keep things expedited.
As is the custom in all professional stadiums, the beers ran between $14-$16 a pop. There were two layers of concession stands, one which circled the entire mid-level of the stadium, while the other wrapped the circumference outdoors. Being that it never rains in Southern California, the outdoor aspect was cool and the multiple location options kept lines reasonable. And naturally, the street tacos were easy to find and delicious.
Did I mention this stadium is nearly 100 years old? Well, it shows. The design is cool in that there are no beams or upper decks that obstruct viewing. However, the seats are also built away from the field, so seeing the action, especially when donning beer goggles, is difficult. Also, the sections are MASSIVE and there are no breaks between rows. Fifty seats across is pretty common place, which makes using the little boys or girls room to dispose of your $16 beer intake a little tough.
Scoreboards/Jumbotron screens: 2.5/7
Depending on where you are seated, this score could be augmented. For me, the largest screen (directly behind me in the endzone) was not the easiest to turn around and see. There were two smaller screens in the corners of the opposite side of the field and all of the screens appeared to be high-tech and new, but finding down-and-distance, real-time statistics and an out-of-town scoreboard on the usual LED displays that line every other modern stadium were sorely missed.
Getting out: 1/7
As easy and stress-free as it was to enter the stadium was completely reversed when it came time to exit. The overall traffic flow of the masses attempting to exit was a disaster and the workers who helped the crowd enter clearly had clocked out when it was time to leave. Traffic was as gridlocked as you might expect and this category more than any other was the most like a Skins home game...that's not a compliment.
Overall Grade: 4.1/7
Slightly above average, I would certainly say the atmosphere was made more hospitable by the volume of fellow fans...and the victory. Had Washington lost or the temperature been 10 degrees higher, I could see the score being docked. However, for a venue that is almost as old as the league itself, it held down its part admirably. See you after Seattle.
(Special thanks to Stacy Edwards and Marcos Ortiz for the use of their pics!)