A steady trickle of Ram ticket holders returned to Anaheim Stadium Tuesday not for football, but, in most cases, for refunds.
Unimpressed with the recent National Football League replacement games, discouraged by the on-again, off-again negotiations between management and striking players, an estimated 2,500 Ram ticket holders, many of them requesting refunds rather than credit toward next season's purchases, hurried to beat Tuesday's 5 p.m. reimbursement deadline.
The estimate, no more than an educated guess by Ram ticket manager Don Nims, includes refund requests received by mail. By the time all refunds are calculated for Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Nims said the total may climb to 8,000-10,000. "Or it could be a lot more, we don't know," Nims said.
Whatever the amount, Nims said that the majority of ticket holders preferred cash refunds instead of credits. The process itself was simple and quick: Turn in your tickets and receive the cash equivalent. Lines rarely grew unmanageable.
For the most part, ticket holders seemed annoyed with the strike and more specifically, the owners' attempts to field free-agent teams.
"Watching the games over the weekend . . . that was a joke," said Dale Brown of Bakersfield, who asked for a refund Tuesday.
"The games that are being played now aren't worth this kind of money," said Don Green of Santa Ana, a Ram season ticket holder since the team arrived in Anaheim in 1979. In his hand was $42, the purchase price of two tickets. "I just took the cash back for this game and now I'll wait and see what happens."
Would he return for Sunday's game if a settlement is reached between management and the NFL Players Assn.?
"Probably," he said, "but I'm not too sure I'll by (season tickets) again."
Said Patricia Mizeur of La Habra after returning a set of tickets: "I don't want to see non-professional players. I don't think it's fair to the fans. We've had season tickets for 10 years and I think the fans are getting a raw deal."
Mizeur said the renewed NFL negotiations were no factor in her decision. "We have other plans already," she said. "My daughter's playing softball, so we're going to see her game."
Other ticket holders, said Nims, were unsure how to approach the news of the latest bargaining session. The choices: Return the tickets for a refund, or keep them and hope for an agreement and the return of Eric Dickerson & Co.
"(The negotiations) have caused a lot of them to waver; they don't know which way to go," Nims said. "And we don't know what to tell them."
John Whalen of Lakewood, who supports the player strike, said he chose to return his tickets because he didn't want to cross a possible picket line. "I think they have the right of free agency," he said. "Now if they sign an agreement, I'd come back."
And this from Leo Mann of Yorba Linda, who wanted to return his entire season ticket package: "I may have come back for a couple of (games), but not for them all. I mean, there isn't any season to watch anymore."