Rams Latest L.A. Franchise To Make Inroads In Hawaii To Grow Fan Base
The Rams following Saturday's preseason game at Aloha Stadium against the Cowboys are the most recent L.A. franchise to "tap into a market that has long been viewed as a home away from home for Southland teams," according to Arash Markazi of the L.A. TIMES. Rams Exec VP & COO Kevin Demoff said, "There hadn’t been an NFL preseason game here in 43 years and the Pro Bowl left three years ago so this was a chance to bring the NFL back to Hawaii and there was a real passion from the Hawaiian Tourism Authority to make this happen. It's a chance to really plant some roots and strengthen our ties to the community here and make some long-term Rams fans." Cowboys-Rams "sold out in March within 24 hours, the fastest sellout in the 44-year history" of Aloha Stadium. Hawaii Tourism Authority President & CEO Chris Tatum said there has "always been a big connection to L.A." Tatum: "Proximity is huge but having a team come out here and reach out to the community and embrace us as fans is even bigger." The Lakers were the first L.A. team to visit Hawaii on a "consistent basis, holding 13 training camps" in the state. The team last went to Hawaii in '15, but Controlling Owner & CEO Jeanie Buss said that there is a "possibility the Lakers could return to Hawaii in the future." When Hawaii lost Lakers camp and the Pro Bowl, which had been "played at Aloha Stadium for more than 30 years," the HTA "reached out to the Clippers and later the Rams." The Clippers last week announced they will be "holding training camp and playing two preseason games in Honolulu" for a third straight year (L.A. TIMES, 8/18).
POWER PLAY: THE ATHLETIC's Vincent Bonsignore noted the Rams "believe there is an opportunity" to claim Hawaii as "Rams territory." Demoff said L.A. is a "gateway to Asia, and Hawaii is also a significant next step as a gateway to Asia for us." Between the preseason game and the "connection they are making in the community, the Rams hope to harvest a generation of fans throughout a region that is as passionate about football as any in the country" (THEATHLETIC.com, 8/16).