Posts Tagged ‘chargers’

Charger Welfare

17 August 2011

Dear J-

As the clock winds down and Los Angeles creeps closer to actually building a new NFL-class stadium (“build it and a disgruntled team will come” they say) our mayor, Jerry Sanders, is leaving on a fact-finding mission to three cities: Denver, Indianapolis, and Kansas City. The purpose of the trip is to find out what works and what doesn’t work to get a new stadium built for the purpose of retaining the Chargers. Short of the system being rigged enough to sweep up voters in the city by kicking a Super Bowl Championship to the Chargers (hey, it worked for the Padres in 1998, didn’t it? World Series appearance and the new stadium was a shoo-in) I think they’re already gone.

Ever since we moved to San Diego ten years ago there’s been talk of a new stadium for the Chargers, constant threats to move and hand-wringing from politicians. All of which has sufficed to make this voter, at least, sufficiently unimpressed by both the city and the Chargers, neither side agreeing on much beyond that taxpayers should end up footing the bill. Enough corporate welfare goes on that running a sports team should not be a profit enterprise. The way that cycle should work is team does well, team attracts more fans, fans are rewarded by reinvestment in the team and stadium. If the Chargers want a bigger cut of the stadium take or a new stadium then they need to fork out the dough for a stadium.

Is that math simple enough for you? Libraries are facing budget cuts and property taxes keep rising but you want to take our money and fold it into a hole in the ground? The way sentiment is now the trip by Sanders is going to be a waste of time unless civic pride is at stake, and Sanders doesn’t want his legacy to be the guy who lost the Chargers to LA. Short of a bump in sympathy from a deep run in the playoffs I don’t think enough people in the city are sufficiently invested in the Chargers to keep them around through a stadium subsidy. If it’s folks outside the city — let’s say county-wide support — that are the strongest fans ask them to give up county money for the stadium. We’re all tapped out, and the Chargers would be incredibly poor gift recipients.



Monday Night

13 September 2010

Dear J-

Pro football is back in our lives tonight and the most interesting thing for me is always seeing what the little tweaks the team chemists have cooked up, and how successful they’ve been. The local Chargers unloaded Antonio Cromartie and LaDanian Tomlinson over the offseason and, to judge by what the Union-Tribune has had to say, good riddance.

It’s interesting, though, as that’s one media outlet that consistently talked up Tomlinson’s contributions both to the team and local charities as though he was some sort of modern saint dropped onto the earth and boy weren’t we lucky to have him, right? And Cromartie’s headline last preseason was about the new work ethic and preparations he was making after a disappointing season; there was a redemption story in the making. Well, all this at least until they were let go by the team and our blessed general manager proved what a mouthpiece the paper was for his propaganda.

I suppose I can’t be overly surprised by what a tool the newspaper has become (hey here’s a great idea: downtown football stadium, maybe on the waterfront we didn’t want the public to have access to anyway) but it all seems so provincial. I suppose we’ve gotten used to life in a kind of island down here in the bottom left corner of America, but we’re starting to get high on our own supply of smug; hopefully we wake up before we take the Chiefs less seriously.


Brothers FTW

3 January 2009

Dear J-

Down here in San Diego there’s a palpable electricity in the air as the Chargers host the Colts in the opening round of the NFL playoffs.  Sure, there’s a hint of opportunism, as after November most of us had pretty much left the team for dead, just as they’d deflated our hopes this season with one close loss after another.  Plus the conventional wisdom was that some team with a Manning at the helm would roll their way forward through the playoffs, but that’s the beauty of a playoff system — win or go home, no excuses, no second-guessing, just demonstrating which team is better on the field.


So it goes; the Chargers are well-regarded in this city — to the point where we’d regret seeing them go, but not, perhaps as much as Nick Canepa might suggest, to the point where all sense of civic identity would be lost, despair would reign, and everyone would commit ritual suicide if they left.  At this point they’re like the brother that always threatens to move out when they don’t get their way, and that no one takes seriously any more.

Tonight I’m thinking about family, as a result, watching the Bolts and Colts swapping the lead like a hot potato.  Whereas your fan can swap allegiances as needed, as my parents are fond of saying, I’ve only got one brother in the world, often after some petty squabble had divided us (window down or up, who gets the last whatever, or any of the innumerable opportunities for sharing that may go awry).  It’s one of those truths that make you groan at the time with the blatant obviousness of it, but as I get older, I appreciate it more.  We fumble through the world knowing little else but that we’ve always got a place to turn to in all cases, on all occasions.  Life is messy, but knowing you’ve got that support, no judgement, no reservations, no boundaries, no distance, no reasons — there’s nothing I’d trade for that.


P.S.  Chargers 23, Colts 17 (OT).

NFL Woes

12 September 2008

Dear J-

Forbes released a report on NFL team valuations — our hometown Chargers placed 26th out of 32 teams, which sounds pretty dismal until you realize that the top 19 teams are worth one billion dollars or more (number 20, the Tennessee Titans, are within spitting distance and both they and the Saints will exceed it at their current rate of growth next year).  Based on the numbers, the Chargers are in fairly robust health — on the low end of the debt to value ratio (11%), turning a profit, and should they go deep into the season this year as expected, voters may feel a little more inclined to grant them their wish:  a shiny new stadium, somewhere with lovely views and the latest and greatest high-dollar luxury boxes.  It worked for the 1994 World Series Padres, after all, but then again, that’s a team that plays 81 home games, not 8.

In fact, according to Forbes, our Chargers have a greater value and less debt than the Boston Red Sox.  Plus they turn a profit at the end of the year.  Go figure:  one has a national presence, rabid fans, and a historical stadium, and the other one plays in the Boston swamps.  No, I kid; seriously, would you expect the three most profitable teams in sports to be the Chicago Bulls, Washington Redskins, and Toronto Maple Leafs, each making over $50 million per season?  These are fascinating numbers to pore over for the NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB — the Chargers are worth more than the top two NHL teams, Leafs and Rangers, combined; the Cowboys are worth nearly as much as the top three NBA teams.  Nearly every NFL team turns a healthy profit, and this with by far the fewest games.

It’s difficult to root for the Chargers to get that new stadium.  It’s somewhat difficult to root for them to succeed , as it’s felt like a transparent attempt to drum up support for a stadium they don’t need, and like a tantrum against a city that can’t subsidize them (we’ve got well-publicized budgetary constraints), they keep threatening to move to greener pastures.  Well, should they head back north to LA, the Coliseum has seen better days, and the Rose Bowl is now the proposed home to both the Trojans and Bruins.