It is no secret that San Diego is a bandwagon sports town. When regular season home games look more like away games; from the sea of orange that we witness whenever we play the Denver Broncos in recent years, or the black hole that gets created whenever the Oakland Raiders come to town. The stadium is too easily overrun on gamedays, which is something that needs to change, and Chargers fans can actually control whether or not this occurs.
However, that argument is for another time. The reason I bring it up now, is because it will draw attention and hopefully make people realize that the Chargers cannot just rely on Chargers fans to come out for the needed 50% plus one vote in November unless we are doing well on the field.
What the Chargers organization must do is be able to showcase all that the new stadium would be able to do. They also must partner with local San Diego hot spots and events in order to draw a wider range of voters in to the new idea. For example: promotions through the Broken Yolk Cafe, Hodad’s, the San Diego Padres, Sea World and last, but certainly not least, Comic-Con promoters.
It is hard to convince someone who may just be a casual football fan to give their vote to a team who in the last two seasons has not finished higher than third in their division.
So, if the Chargers organization can promote the stadium before the ballots are cast, as not just a place to play football, but a place in which economic growth is a guaranteed reality, then, clearly, it would entice even those residents in San Diego who are not fans of the Chargers.
In recent memory, Comic-Con is one of the biggest events in San Diego’s history. If they are able to establish a museum that would guarantee tourists more than one week a year, that would prove to be a sustainable, year-round revenue. Not to mention, the jobs that would be created for future San Diegans would increase exponentially due to the number of non-football events that would take place throughout the year.
The stadium plan will fail if the Chargers rely on just Chargers fans in the area to come out and vote. The only way this will work is if the Chargers organization is able to use all of these other organizations, and ways of promoting the non-football benefits to the city. Should the Chargers be able to put together a viable, convincing stadium plan, it should be a slam dunk.
Although the doubters, even fans of the team, may come out in droves, stating they are not going to get behind a stadium plan keeping the Chargers in San Diego, it is up to all of the educated fans to do their due diligence in ensuring said doubters regarding all of the opportunities which would lie ahead should a stadium be granted to the NFL team which currently resides in America’s finest city.
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After spending a weekend in San Diego highlighted by a Boltblitz meetup I waited to board an airplane back home to Phoenix. Still in my powder blue Rivers jersey, a man nearby asked if the Chargers were going to L.A., to which I replied with an emphatic no. behind me I could hear a woman mutter under her breath, ‘Good riddance’.
The scariest part of the whole stadium/relocation issue is not the politics involved, we’ve heard the stadium issue arise every year for over a decade. Every year someone looks into it and it yields no result. Over time, the issue just dies until another season comes to a close. It’s not the doublespeak coming from the elected officials in San Diego every year on the subject. It’s not even the threat of the Chargers going into business with the Raiders, of all teams, on timesharing a brand new stadium in Los Angeles.
The scariest part of the relocation/stadium debate is the people of San Diego themselves. There’s no need to worry about us, the loyal fans who read Boltblitz or go to the games. There’s no need to worry about those who earmark every Sunday from preseason through the Super Bowl solely for watching football. The Chargers know they have your vote. The problem is will enough come to cast their ballots and win a majority vote?
California sports fans as a whole have a reputation as being fair weather fans. They show up when a team is winning and are quick to desert when a team is losing. There’s a lot of reasons for that. California has near perfect weather and breathtaking views no matter where in the state you are. There will always be an abundance of beaches, attractions, hot bodies and social events from concerts to political rallies going on at any given moment. California is hands down the most trendsetting, progressive state in the nation.
This is, after all, the state that voted in Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor. Not city councilman, not mayor, GOVERNOR.
California is not known for having rabid fan bases. Sadly, the delusional collection of Vader-mask wearing misfits that call themselves Raider Nation is probably the closest thing California offers in the rabid fan base department. The Lakers fans have disappeared as Kobe’s body deteriorates more and more every year. There’s simply too many options to put sporting events at the top of the list at any given time in California.
Look at other NFL teams like the Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills or Cleveland Browns. These are teams with rabid fan bases. They show up rain, snow or shine. Their teams are the only game in town and those teams galvanize the city. There are no celebrity-studded premieres to attend, no tourist trap mega-attractions like Disney, Sea World or Times Square to visit. The fewer the options, the stronger and more rabid the fan base.
What this blood pact between the Chargers and the Raiders does is push the stadium issue back to the head of the line. It’s a threat, but a successful threat because it has everyone talking including the team and city officials necessary to get the ball rolling on the matter. In my view, the Chargers and the city will finally agree on a location and on cost to build a new state-of-the-art facility. The problem comes when the initiative comes before the residents of San Diego County requiring a majority vote to pass.
Will the fan base come?
People like the lady in the airport worry me. The non-sports fans in San Diego County are my concern. They could care less if the team leaves and will ignore the issue until the vote comes. There will be a cost to the county and they will turn out to vote against it. Those are the people that need to be educated. Those are the people who will need to understand the economic blow that will be dealt to San Diego if the Chargers leave. If dollars are all they see, make sure they see the whole picture, not just a ballot asking for an extra tax on a bill.
It is encouraging that former players and Chargers legends like Ladanian Tomlinson and Nick Hardwick are willing to be a part of the cause. However, how effective will they be explaining the issue to the non-sports fans in San Diego County? Will they be able to convert the disenfranchised Chargers fans who were turned off in the final years of the old regime?
A new stadium will be an economic boon to San Diego. There is no better city in the state to stage events. A new stadium means a permanent spot in the Super Bowl rotation, Final Fours, World Cups and Olympics among a myriad other non-sports related events. We as Chargers fans can’t just leave it to team officials and players to spread that message, every single one of us has to help the apathetic resident understand what a new stadium means to the city and to the people if we truly want the Chargers to stay in San Diego.
I, for one, will be starting at the airport.
The Greg One