I do have a fondness for many different sports and my pro sports loyalties tend to vary. My NFL passions stretch all the way back to my childhood in Kansas City – I’m a huge Chiefs fan.
It turns out that this year in Week One of the NFL season my beloved Chiefs are playing the
San Diego Los Angeles Chargers, so it’s not that hard to get tickets. So we did.
The Chargers’ current home field and situation is odd. It’s their second year in Los Angeles after
abandoning leaving San Diego and their new stadium in Los Angeles (which is actually the Rams’ stadium but the Chargers will be sharing it) won’t be built until 2020 – maybe. So while the Rams abandoned St. Louis and are playing in the LA Coliseum for a few years (a historic site which has hosted two Olympics, countless USC football games, and seats 93,607) the Chargers are in a much newer and much smaller stadium (only seats 27,000 max, but has a half dozen sections tarped off with ad banners because they weren’t even close to selling out the place) designed for LA Galaxy soccer matches.
It was a nice day for a game – upper 80’s but with a breeze and we were in the shade for most of the game (stupid spinning planet!).
You notice several things at a live game, first of which is that when television is in a commercial break everyone stands around for about three minutes and fans who are unused to going to live games are wondering why nothing’s happening.
You also miss all of those graphics that you see on television, like the yellow line that’s superimposed on the image to show where the first down marker is. You have to do it old school and actually look at the yard markers that the sideline officials move around! How…archaic!!
The simple fact is that the Chargers aren’t drawing many Chargers fans. This shouldn’t be shocking, seeing as how a great many of the San Diego fans (who had been loyal for decades) are neither happy nor forgiving about the team’s departure, and LA fans don’t consider the Chargers to be their team at all. Football fans in LA are starting to re-attach themselves to the Rams (who moved from here to St. Louis in 1995 before moving back in 2016) except for those who are still Raiders fans (a very non-trivial number of fans BTW).
Despite all of the pissing and moaning about how the great city of Los Angeles should have two NFL teams after going decades without having any, the Chargers are not that second team right now. They might never be. Looking at the end zone during the game you can see almost half of the fans wearing Chiefs’ red, not Chargers’ blue.
That got much worse late in the game when a couple of Chargers turnovers gave the Chiefs a big lead. The Chargers fans for the most part bailed early, leaving the remaining crowd about 90% or more dressed in red and cheering for the Chiefs.
Listening to some of the Chargers fans and season seat holders seated around us (our immediate area was at least 50% dressed in red) it sounds like this is normal for EVERY Chargers home game. In two weeks when they play the 49ers, all of the seats occupied today by Chiefs fans will be filled with 49ers fans. Then Raiders fans. Then Titans fans. Then Cardinals fans…
Again my “MBA brain” went to looking at this as a case study in marketing. It’s one of those “what NOT to do” scenarios.
But we had fun and we’re off to a 1-0 start! We have tickets to a game much later in the season on the road (a story for later) – I suspect I’ll be looking back fondly on the weather today. It won’t be anywhere that warm (or dry, most likely) for that game.