Going Going... Back Back... To... SD?
The Super Chargers bolted SD after last season for the glitz and glamour of LA. Well, as the saying goes, "everything that glitters ain't gold," and the Chargers and Dean Spanos are finding that out first hand.
They say that hindsight is 20/20, and it turns out that “they” were right. The “Super Chargers” moved from San Diego to Los Angeles this year to what was supposedly the land of opportunity in an NFL market sense. Not only are they losing “the fight for LA," but it turns out that the Chargers were a tad overestimating when considering the likelihood of being able to establish anything resembling an immediate fan base upon relocating, and in fact, really overestimating.
The LA Chargers currently reside in the StubHub Center located in sunny Carson, California. A self-proclaimed “multi-sport venue,” the StubHub Center itself is no bigger than a ticket-box—see what I did there? Holding no more than 27,000 occupants, it can make for quite the intimate experience and thus home field advantage. That is a very true sentiment; however, when the fans that fill the stadium are generally for the opposing team, that very same effect works against the Chargers. Being theorized as one of the largest factors contributing to the lack of Charger fans, or perhaps fans in general, has to be the price point on the tickets. Due to the stadium being a small one, the price of tickets according to Forbes is somewhere around $200 minimally, with parking coming in right at $100. Ouch.
On top of the fact that their new home hasn’t quite “latched” on, their old home is certainly lashing out. Not only is there a fan in particular that isn’t afraid to let his feelings about the situation and ownership be known, but he is actually going above and beyond effort-wise to show it. Prior to games this season, there have been several banners flown above the stadium, more often than not with disparaging messages about the franchise or the owner. This has so much affected those sort of responsible for the banners, specifically Chargers owner Dean Spanos, that he actually asked the FAA to ban the plane from flying the banner. (He was denied.) Of course, if people are willing to fly a plane in protest, then there are surely those who express their dislike on social media? There certainly is, and so much that there have been hashtags inspired by the movement, such as a play on “fight for LA” mantra, #fightforLAst.
As the relocation of any sports franchise can take a while to take hold—see the Oklahoma City Thunder—the rewards yielded can turn out to be well worth the wait. This case, however, presents a very unique situation, as there are a few very scintillating, yet counter-contributing factors that play into why this is not a situation “primed” for success. Although the optimal location for anything, LA isn’t quite that for football. Especially when there are two teams in the city, and currently four teams in the state. Even when you have Oakland off to Sin City in a very short time, the state is still a bit convoluted with football teams. The only way to capitalize on this is to target a specific sect, or area of the state, with its seemingly own culture and makeup, that fans can latch onto. Where in the world will the Chargers find a place like that? Oh yeah, they just left it, San Diego!
Known for being more laid-back and surfer dude than the red carpet and celebrity of LA, San Diego was the perfect place for the Chargers. It had its own identity, and thus its own fan base, and made for the optimal place to draw fans and fill stadiums. Even though the Chargers have never been a huge draw on their own, they have always filled the SD stadium, as SD is an optimal place for fans from other teams to come watch a game, due to the “vacation-like” nature of the city. Even still though, at least 40 percent to half of the stadium (or about 30,000), would have been in powder blue, which is still a lot better than barely filling a stadium with a 27,000 capacity. What cements this factor is the fact that even if it were filled, the StubHub Center would mostly be fans of the opposing team based on what we have seen thus far.
Long story short, stop fighting it, Mr. Spanos. The writing is already on the wall for what seems like the inevitable. On top of the fact that you won’t be owning a stadium for at least three or four years in any situation, with the possibility of building in SD sooner than LA being a reality, it only makes sense to go home. Although you may have to endure being the butt of the joke, and even a bit of lover's remorse for leaving in the first place, the move back would turn out to be the best in the long run. If the Chargers continue to reside in LA, and continue to perform the way they have, both on the field and in sales, they may not be able to survive. This seems a bit drastic, but the results of their games from a competitive and fan base stance are as well. The ball's in Mr. Spanos' court, and when he shoots his shot, “he best not miss."