As most sports fans know, the NFL San Diego Chargers moved to Los Angeles after the ’16 season, their new name is the Los Angeles Chargers. Because of this dramatic and quick move to LA over the offseason, the Chargers don’t yet have their own legitimate NFL stadium.
For the next three seasons, the Chargers will play in the StubHub Center, a soccer venue currently occupied by the LA Galaxy. Eventually, they will share the $2.6 billion stadium in Inglewood, California, being built by Stan Kroenke, owner of the LA Rams.
For many years, there were no NFL teams in LA. Over the last few years, two teams have moved to LA. For some football fans, it does feel a little too ambitious for a this move. Yes, the team owner could not work out a deal with the local officials to get a stadium built but does that mean you immediately jump to LA, a Hollywood and college town that has many competing entities for entertainment dollars? LA may be able to support 1 NFL team, however, to support 2 in 2017 and beyond when their new stadium will not be ready until 2020 is another story. Will the NFL, their owners and the Chargers’ owner regret this move?
I see some sports writers claiming very few fans are going to the Charger games at the StubHub Center. Let’s peel the onion to clarify what occurred in the opening weekend at their new venue.
First, the StubHub Center holds 27,000 spectators and the attendance at their first game was not a sellout. The attendance was 25,381 and for clarification, this doesn’t mean the number of spectators through the turnstiles but the number of tickets sold. If you counted turnstile spectators, it may have been half full.
Therefore, when sports talk shows and sports writers claim few fans are going to see the Chargers in LA, that’s not the whole picture. Said differently, even though only 14,000 fans showed up, about 26,000 tickets were sold. Meaning, those analysts ridiculing the empty seats at StubHub Center don’t in the same breath say that 95% of the tickets have been sold — so about 10,000 fans with tickets were “no shows.”
Perhaps these “no show” fans are engaged in a boycott. Maybe not happy the Chargers moved to LA. Perhaps not happy their owner could not have struck a deal with the San Diego politicians. Maybe not too happy their new drive will be 2 hours one way to get to their new venue. Could this be a boycott by those who spent money on tickets but then stayed away? It doesn’t hurt the owner in the pocketbook but the boycott could be a public relations one.
One more thing about attendance, they’ve only had one regular season home game so there’s a chance that the amount of actual spectators might increase. It’s a new city, temporary venue, Chargers are not playing well, and you could have diehard fans that haven’t yet made up their mind on taking that long drive north to see the game in person. Even if they begin to fill the stadium and this no longer is a “talking point” in the media, the Chargers will have to play at the StubHub Center for 3 years. Originally it was 2 years, but due to construction delays, the completion of the stadium will take a little longer. That fact may also hurt the bottom line in case the Chargers’ owner is keeping score.
Moving to the NFL league office, besides the empty stadium so far in LA, do they care about this issue at this time? I’m thinking time will tell in terms of optics throughout at least this first season.
Is there some caveat here regarding purchasing season tickets now in this small venue to enable these fans in the future to be among the first in queue when they move into the new venue? Otherwise, why buy and let your tickets collect dust?
If I were a Chargers fan and quite upset about the move, I would have completely boycotted the ’17 season. To purchase season tickets even when you’re upset with the team, that seems counterintuitive and perhaps you’re condoning the move.
If I were not a Chargers fan but loved NFL football and lived nearby, I’d certainly take advantage of the situation. With many people not going and a saturated ticket market, prices would definitely come down in price. In addition, the game is played in a soccer-oriented venue so there shouldn’t be a bad seat in the house.