Posted by Tyler Hustwick 2 years, 1 month ago

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As a San Diego native and lifelong fan of the San Diego Chargers, these past few months have been difficult. In our town, summer is a time for sunny, joyful optimism about the potential of an upcoming season, an expectation that this time things will be different. But this year, things are different, a cloud hangs over my beloved Bolts, the gloomy nature of which, has nothing to do with wins or losses on the playing field, but rather the uncertainty of what’s going to happen off of it.

The Breakup

Everyone wants to know, are the Chargers bolting from America’s Finest City? As much as it pains me to say it, all signs seem to point to their imminent departure. Although no official announcement has been made, the allure of Los Angeles, the nation’s second largest media market, is an opportunity far too great for Dean Spanos & Co. to pass up. So what happens now? It’s time for a breakup. 

There’s no doubt that professional sports teams can unify a city. They can represent a city with their style of play or even pleasantly distract a city from its own harsh realities. But the sad truth is, these teams can also move. They can divorce a city to move in with a prettier, more financially accommodating one. Time and time again, fans have endured the heartbreak of team relocation.

These breakups are never pretty and from a public relations standpoint, they’re a nightmare. The Chargers are well aware of what’s on the horizon if and when they officially announce their departure. The standard formula goes: local public opinion sours, game attendance plummets and merchandise sales flat-line. If you think they’re concerned about this, they’re not. As a result of collective bargaining and league revenue sharing, all NFL owners get paid, win, lose or draw. The Chargers and every other NFL team were paid a whopping $226.4 million share of the league’s $7.1 billion revenue in 2014.    

Save Our Bolts?

This past week, I ventured out of the Stalwart offices and headed to nearby Chargers Park for the team’s final public training camp session of the summer. I’ve attended training camp in years past, lining up with other Chargers’ faithful, giddy at the chance to see our team practice in person. I expected this year to be different, to find fans as equally frustrated with the team’s potential relocation as I was, to hear angry chants of “Save our Bolts!,” but I saw none of that. Instead, I found the same joyful optimism (see video below) I had seen in year’s past. And while the fans in attendance still believe a miracle “Hail Mary” can be converted between the Chargers and our city, they acknowledge that this very well may be the beginning of the end for the San Diego Chargers.

In all objective fairness, the steadfast commitment witnessed at training camp should not be considered the norm. When the Chargers kick off the 2015-16 season, the “die-hard” fans will be there, but there is simply not enough of them to fill Qualcomm Stadium’s 70,000+ capacity, game in and game out. If such a contingent existed, there would likely be much more public favor behind building a stadium funded by taxpayer dollars. Compounding the situation is the City of San Diego’s September 11 deadline, the last day to submit a financial agreement with the Chargers to the City Council. Should that date pass without a resolution, there cannot be a January special-election for voter approval of publicly funded stadium. At that point, the Chargers departure from San Diego becomes almost certain and the breakup officially begins.

What do you think San Diego? Share your thoughts below!

                                       

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