Delay of new stadium opening could affect the rebranding of Rams, including uniforms
Kevin Demoff is well aware of emotions surrounding the Rams’ uniforms.
The team’s chief operating officer and vice president of football operations fields more questions from fans about uniforms than perhaps any other topic, including quarterback Jared Goff and the planned $2.6-billion Inglewood stadium.
So uniforms were one of the major ancillary issues for fans in the wake of Thursday’s news that the stadium’s opening had been pushed back from 2019 to 2020, and that the Rams would continue to play in the Coliseum for three more seasons.
Fourteen months ago, Demoff told The Times, “Our focus has always been on introducing new uniforms the year we open a new stadium. That’s the opportune time to shape your brand.”
Demoff said Thursday that the process with the NFL and uniform-maker Nike had begun and that the Rams are eligible to rebrand in 2019.
But it might not happen until 2020.
“That’s a decision we’ll make in the coming months as we look at the uniforms,” Demoff said during a teleconference with a reporters. “But we will have the option of beginning a rebrand in 2019 or with the stadium in 2020.”
The Rams returned to Los Angeles last season after more than two decades in St. Louis. Many fans were disappointed that that team stuck with the St. Louis ensemble that featured the colors blue, gold and white.
They pined for the blue and white uniforms of the mid-1960s, or the blue, yellow and white colors adopted in the ’70s.
Demoff said in 2016 that the NFL required teams to submit permission to overhaul uniforms between January and March of a given year for implementation two years after that. So the Rams did not immediately seek permission to make changes.
But the Rams announced two months ago that they were modifying their home uniforms.
They will wear a navy blue helmet with white horns and a white face mask, and white pants emblazoned with a single navy blue stripe. The white jersey with St. Louis-era gold accents is expected to remain until the rebrand.
The NFL allows teams to wear so-called “throwback” uniforms twice a season. For the second season in a row, the Rams will wear the blue, yellow and white colors in home games against the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers.
New coach Sean McVay is concerned more about how the team performs than what uniforms it wears or where it plays home games.
McVay, who is preparing for the start of organized team activities Monday, said in January that the new stadium was “going to be what represents the premier sports complex in the entire world.”
“I know it’s a project that’s a couple years away,” he said, “but what a great project and what an exciting thing that we’ll have in this city of Los Angeles.”
The delay in opening the stadium, which the Rams will share with the Chargers, is not expected to affect the Rams on the field. But it could affect the sale of personal-seat licenses for the new stadium, especially if the Rams do not show improvement after last season’s uninspiring 4-12 finish.
In 2016, the Rams said they sold 70,000 season tickets at the Coliseum. A spokesperson said in April that the team would not comment on the number of season tickets sold for 2017 until all sales were complete. But the fact that the Rams made season tickets available to those on the waiting list indicates there was attrition after fans watched the Rams go 1-6 at home.
The delay will not affect the timeline for the sale of PSLs or other sales, Demoff said.
“That was always scheduled to commence this fall in connection with the Chargers as well,” he said. “We’re finalizing that timeline.”
Because the Rams will continue to play in the Coliseum through 2019, they could play a game abroad in four consecutive seasons.
Under league rules, teams playing in temporary stadiums are required to play in international games. The Rams played the New York Giants in London last season and will play the Arizona Cardinals in London this season. They could play in London or Mexico in 2018 and now, probably, 2019.
The NFL awarded the new Inglewood stadium the Super Bowl for the 2020 season. Demoff said that because playing an international game is also a requirement in the Super Bowl process, the chance of the Rams playing abroad in 2019 or 2020 was already part of the equation.
“The thing fans care about the most,” Demoff said, is “that we play better football under coach McVay — and that we deliver a great fan experience every year. And that can’t change whether you’re in the Coliseum or in the new Inglewood stadium.
“And we have to make sure that the new stadium is worth the wait when fans walk in on day one.”
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein
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