The Controversy over the San Diego Chargers Moving to L.A.
“All my life, I’ve been right next to a football field. I never knew nothing else.” –Bobby Bowden
My fiancee, two of our friends and I went to the San Diego Chargers home opener yesterday against the Detroit Lions. We headed down to Qualcomm Stadium around 11:00am and joined a good friend of mine who was hosting a tailgate party. We enjoyed delicious food and beverages while experiencing the crowd getting amped up for what could be the last home opener at Qualcomm. Right around 12:45pm we headed into the stadium, grabbed some nachos and found our seats. My fiancee is from Michigan so she was cheering for the Lions. She was so excited all the way through the first half when the Lions were winning. The Chargers ended up having an awesome come-from-behind win though, and her and I both couldn’t help but smile! In the end, we decided that it was a really exciting, fun game. (Buy tickets to another game here!) However, it was a really good game that was played in a really old and outdated stadium. Dean Spanos, the owner and president of the San Diego Chargers, is one of the most hated people in San Diego right now. Why? He is considering moving the team to Los Angeles. Is this right or wrong? Is this a good idea or a bad one? After watching the game yesterday at the stadium, I started to formulate my own opinion. (Many fans have mixed opinions, see here.) I found eight reasons why I think the San Diego Chargers should have a new stadium in San Diego. If the city doesn’t support building a new stadium soon, we will most likely lose our beloved team to another city. (The Chargers have already missed a deadline with San Diego to create a contract, see here.) If not Los Angeles, another city will build a modern stadium and pick up the team.
Before I try to explain myself, let’s look at the history a little. The current Chargers home field is Qualcomm Stadium (formerly called Jack Murphy Stadium, and before that San Diego Stadium.) This stadium was built in the mid-1960s. The Chargers, then a member of the American Football League (AFL,) played the first game ever at the stadium in 1967. So, the stadium is roughly 50 years old. It has gone through some renovations over the years, and the scoreboard has been updated a few times, the last time in the mid 1990s. The Padres also used to play at Qualcomm, but they moved in 2004 to Petco Park, which is an awesome venue for Major League Baseball. In fact, the All-Star Game will be played at Petco Park in 2016!
Qualcomm Stadium has had its days. The venue has hosted three Super Bowls, two MLB All-Star games, and other great events. However, it doesn’t have the charm of old baseballs stadiums like Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. Qualcomm these days is just an old stadium that is not suitable for the modern NFL game. Here are eight reasons why I think the San Diego Chargers need a new stadium:
- horrible ingress & egress to the stadium
- long lines and very mismanaged entry into the stadium (I’d estimate 25 percent of the fans were still outside the stadium at the kick-off, and this was not because of over-extended tailgating)
- very limited selection of food and beverages
- old bathrooms
- old seats
- terrible scoreboard that was very hard to read
- “big screen” that was such low quality you couldn’t really tell what happened on replays
- massive car lines and waits leaving the venue (related to the poor ingress & egress)
I’ve lived in San Diego for 13 years now, and I really like the Chargers. They can be disappointing, just like our Padres, but they are a fun team to watch. I love NFL football, and having a team makes a city much more “real.”
The city and its citizens have been their own worst enemy in the Chargers potentially leaving San Diego. The team definitely needs a new stadium to be competitive. A new multiuse sports and entertainment venue would be great for the city if it were planned and managed properly. It is a real shame that San Diego is in this situation. Our current mayor, Kevin Faulkner, is not taking the issue very seriously. Unfortunately, it may be too little, too late.
The one thing that may help: Los Angeles cannot support three NFL teams. The Raiders, Chargers, and Rams all want to move to LA. The Chargers are partnered with the Raiders in a stadium proposal. The Rams have their own stadium proposal. If we get lucky, the NFL will decide to allow the Rams to move to LA, and hopefully San Diego will have dodged a bullet and they can still keep the Chargers if a new stadium is approved and built in San Diego. The city needs it. The team needs it. The fans need it. Right now the stadium is almost useless. If a new one were built properly it could be multifunctional and a great asset to the city.
In summary, I think Mr. Spanos has a legitimate gripe. Is this all about greed? I’m sure that has a lot to do with it. But that is the NFL. If you want to have a team, you have to play the game.