You would think I should have been a Steelers fan due to growing up with two die-hard Steelers’ fans as parents. My grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are all die-hard fans of the Black and Gold. I was born and raised in San Diego, and despite the efforts of my parents to make me a Steelers fan, I became a fan of my home team. With many relatives still in the Pittsburgh area, I have been lucky enough to attend two Chargers versus Steelers game at Heinz Field. This past Monday, I finally got a change to see a game at Qualcomm Stadium. I attended all three games with my father. My experiences at both stadiums were so different, yet the same, in many ways.

My first game in Pittsburgh was a cold one. It was 25 degrees and snowing. Heinz field is surrounded by the three rivers and it is windy. I am a San Diego girl and I learned that wind chill is a real thing. I have never been so cold in my entire life. Monday’s game in San Diego was a complete opposite.  It was hot!  By the end of the game it was still 80 degrees out. A happy medium would have been nice, but I think the hot weather was a little more tolerable.

While I did not tailgate for Monday’s game in San Diego, I have tailgated there in the past. Tailgating is great at Qualcomm. The stadium parking is large enough and the food is great. San Diego cooks up carne asada, pollo asada, burgers, dogs and there are also a lot of local brews. Surprisingly, I tailgated at both games I attended in Pittsburgh.  Heinz Field is downtown and tailgating does not happen in the stadium parking lot. Steelers fans buy parking spots at local businesses in the City and tailgate there. They cook up kielbasa, pierogies, chipped ham and burgers.  Contrary to popular belief, Steeler fans do not drink Iron City Beer and stick to Yuengling Lager and Rolling Rock.  I was proud to be the only Chargers fans sporting my gear while tailgating in Pittsburgh.

After attending a newer stadium at Heinz Field and then going to Qualcomm, I can see why the Chargers are seeking a new stadium.  Qualcomm Stadium is old and out-dated. Heinz Field has a beautiful score board. The Heinz ketchup bottles really do pour when the Steelers are in the red zone. I admit that it  was very cool to see for the first time. Touchdowns are even crazier with all the digital screens. They try to do what they can at the Q with the fire and fireworks. It definitely gets the fans excited. A new stadium is needed and I just hope that they can somehow make it work in San Diego.

My biggest disappointment at the game in San Diego was the number of Steelers fans that were in attendance. I expected about 40% of the fans to be Steelers fans.  Steelers fans are everywhere and they travel to see their team play. Truth is, what better city is there to visit to see your team play on the road than San Diego?  It’s a harsh reality that Chargers fans and season ticket holders sell their tickets to opposing fans to make a profit. I was right about the 40 percent, but it was the Chargers fans that were 40 percent of the attendance. That is just shameful. Chargers fans should be embarrassed.

When I attended the two games in Pittsburgh, I only saw about hundred other Chargers fans in the stadium. That is FAR less than one percent!  It was Black and Gold from one end of the stadium to the other end. The Steelers fans are incredibly loyal to their team. They chant together, cheer together and get sloppy  drunk together.  It was great and a little disheartening to see as a Chargers fan. These fans walk down the walkway at Heinz Field all chanting “Here we go Steelers, here we go!”  It’s intimidating as fan of the opposing team. At Qualcomm Stadium, I heard that chant from Steelers fans, but Chargers fans responded with “Here we go Chargers, here we go!”.

I am very proud of the Chargers fans who attended the game. We cheered our hearts out and tried to be louder than the Steelers fans. Despite all the terrible towels waving in the Stadium, the fans were gracious. They booed the Chargers when they came out, but settled down when the game started. The Steelers fans were gracious in Pittsburgh, also. I would like to see how Steelers fans respond after a loss, but I would assume that they are still gracious in defeat.

My experience at both Heinz Field and Qualcomm were great. I would have preferred to see the Chargers’ home games be like Steelers’ home games. Attending any NFL game is an amazing experience. I think every Bolts fan should attend a game at an opposing stadium.  It is an experience you will never forget as a fan.

Thank you for reading.

Go Chargers!

Laura Leech

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