Q-Whats the major gripe of the San Diego Chargers?
A- They want a new stadium
But who's really advertising this want? The fans, the players, not really. It is just the owner. Does the salary cap space go up for the players if they have a bigger stadium? No. Do the ticket prices get cheaper for the fans if there are more seats to sell? No. Do the taxpayers get forced by vote to build something they dont want to build? Yes.
Sure, I go to Qualcomm a few times a year, I have gripes about it which I will address later but the most important gripe that faces Charger fans have to be the blackouts.
For those not familiar with what a blackout is, I will give a brief description.
When a home team doesn't sell out all of its tickets , the game will not be shown publicly on television by the local television channels. This is a reality Chargers fans have faced several times last year alone including their home opener against Jacksonville. Keep in mind these blackouts occurred affecting nearly 600,000 Chargers home viewers after Qualcomm didn't sell 70,000 tickets.
Imagine if they were approved a 90,000 seat stadium, or even 100,000 seats as some plans suggest. This would inevitably wipe out all home games, and alienate over a million fans who cant afford to view the Chargers anywhere else than on local television.
So what's the big threat of retaliation?
A move to Los Angeles!
I think everybody knows that would be a failed venture. Los Angeles is Raiders territory and everybody knows it. Sure the Chargers would be promised a new stadium, and state of the art training facilities, but honestly, the Stadium would only come close to selling out once a year(the Raiders game), and that would be 90 percent Raiders fans. Not exactly what I would call a home field advantage.
The other home games would be really lucky to get 60 percent attendance, and 40 percent of those people would be there just to have something to do. Lets face it. The Chargers fan base isn't huge and widespread like some other teams. They have a solid , loyal die hard fan base, but outside of San Diego, they would not thrive. Therefore, the threat of them leaving is pretty hollow. Frankly, the Chargers really shouldn't consider a stadium over 70,000 seats. Blacking out all of your home games could not only isolate 90 percent of their fan base, but it would also kill their merchandising, advertising and hurt the organization worse than a move to Los Angeles.
What should the solution be?
If you cant sell out the seats you have , perhaps adding more, or moving away from your fan base isn't the answer. How about cleaning up what you have and make people want to come back. There are a billion things to do in San Diego, they benefit by having theme parks, a historical center, the ocean, beautiful harbors, arts and entertainment. If anything is drawing fans away from Qualcomm, its because its such a hassle to get in and out.
I make several trips a year. I don't necessarily see a building that needs to be replaced, inadequate seating or a field that isn't in pristine condition. But as a fan, I can think of many things that would make a Chargers game a more pleasant experience. Some examples: 70 percent of the people who attend games come in via Trolley service , myself included.
Yet somehow every train within all surrounding exits are booked solid. People wait for hours as loaded train after loaded train pass by the stops while Chargers fans by the hundreds scratch their head in disbelief and often miss the better part of the first quarter.
Increase the frequency of the trolley's during home games . This wouldn't be hard to do. And I'm sure a little talk between the Trolley system and the Chargers officials would not only be great for the fans, but great for trolley business as well.
This is even worse leaving the games. You will often see lines of people after a Chargers game of over 40 thousand people. Yet, the trolley service continues its normal routine shuffling off 400 people every 10 minutes. You can literally wait in this line for two hours.
Have trolleys backed up and waiting for the game to end. Have a continuous track of trolley's delivering people to all the game stop parking lots, and not running their full course. I'd consider myself a die hard fan, but if there would be one thing that makes me not want to return to a game, it would be waiting in a line for more time than the actual game takes to be played.
Problem 3: Waiting in a line to use the restroom.
Now a huge part of my game missing has to be while using the restroom. Every time I've had to go, I have to get behind a line of 50-75 guys, all lining up for their shot at a urinal. Ive actually seen guys that just cant hold it any longer, and piss in public, semi hiding themselves. I don't want to see it, smell it, or have any kids witness it, but if there isn't an alternative, what is a guy to do? Solution. Simply either make more urinals, or ( and this may sound sexist) but convert many of the females restrooms into males.
No, I'm not talking about making women walk around the park to use one, but perhaps changing out half of their bathrooms into mens. Lets face it, 90 percent of the games attendees are male, yet for every male bathroom with 75 guys lined up in front of it, there is an empty women's restroom right next to it. I don't think any women would mind walking an extra 60 feet to use a restroom.
Problem 4: Concessions
Okay, I understand this one, if I'm at a game and I want a beer, I'm gonna pay top dollar for it, that's a choice. If I want a piece of pizza , I'm gonna shell out 7 dollars for it. But when I am at a September game( 90 degrees and sunny), and I watch security guards make a young kid pour out his water bottle, I gotta think that's going over the line. This is where stadium greed makes people not want to spend anything at all,
If a guy brings in a cooler of beer, turn him away, if a guy brings his kid and that kid has gum, candy, water, even a sandwich, let him keep it.
The fight starters:
Every team has them, and Ive been embarrassed by Chargers fans as well. There is a fine line between trash talking and blatantly offensive behavior. This line is often severely distorted by alcohol. Solution: I really wish that when security sees two people yelling at each other, they either A. Cut off their alcohol B. separate them c. Both. Unfortunately these skirmishes always seem to escalate until there is an entirely embarrassing drunken display and somebody leaves in handcuffs.
Security needs to get these people out of there, and keep them out of there. Do you realize that the Raiders have the second lowest attendance record in the NFL despite having perhaps the biggest fan base.
My friend Jose is a Raiders fan, and refuses to go to the games because of the erratic behavior. And just look at some youtube videos of what happens when non Raiders fans go to their games. Ironically, they are trying to defend a group of players who couldn't care less about them, and hurting the teams income in the process. I really hope to see less and less of these hardcore drunken idiots, even when they show up in Chargers jerseys, Their just bad for business.
I don't think that having a bigger stadium or moving out of town is the answer for the Chargers. Clean up what you got, make the experience of watching a game more easilly accessible and more enjoyable. Sell out your games , and then think about a new home stadium. Wanna increase ticket prices , ticket sales, and fan base? Win a superbowl, it worked for the Packers Colts and Saints!