Dec 20, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers fans hold sign relating to the potential move to Los Angeles after the season after the game against the Miami Dolphins at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers beat the Dolphins 30-14. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
To be honest, the past few seasons have been excruciating for Chargers fans, players, coaches, and the city of San Diego as a whole. With so much in flux as to where the team will reside in the future, the organization desperately needs to find a way to regain the support and loyalty of their local fan base. While many fans will proclaim they will not follow the team to Los Angeles, the truth of the matter is the Chargers ownership knows they will. Odds of a die hard fan jumping ship to suddenly root on the 49ers, Raiders, or Rams is pretty low. Nobody wants to see them leave, but at the end of the day the NFL is a business, and money talks. Regardless of where the team will end up, one thing is for sure. The Chargers ownership will have to find a way to build and repair a damaged relationship with the city of San Diego and its fan base.
There are many ways to build team loyalty in the National Football League, but none are as effective as the obvious. Winning football games. A winning team will always fill the seats. Just look at what has developed from the recent success of the Seattle Seahawks fan base. Prior to the arrival of Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson, the 12th man was merely a soft whisper from a dark alley. Now, after a couple seasons of sustained success they are shouting “Beast Mode” from the rooftops. But you simply can’t decide to win in the NFL and it will suddenly come to pass. What you can do is maximize your efforts to brand yourself and create enough hype to fill a stadium.
A new stadium could very well make that happen. Matter of fact, I know of multiple fans of teams other than the Cowboys who have traveled to Alrington, Texas just to sit in one of the 80,000 seats and enjoy the experience and art of a $1.2 billion stadium. So what happens if the Chargers do join the Rams in Inglewood in the purposed $2.6 billion stadium set on 300 acres? Is having a new stadium to house a team with a losing record enough to generate buzz in the ticket sales department? Only time will tell.
One other avenue to rebuild fan loyalty that would be very intriguing is if the Chargers ownership decided to accept an offer to appear on HBO’s Hard Knocks series. An insiders view into training camp has give many teams an extra boost in ticket sales over the past decade, and draws the attention of NFL fans nationwide. Coming into 2016, the organization meets all the criteria of a team to be featured on the show, being that they missed the playoffs two seasons in a row and do not have a new head coach.
By no means am I saying that the organization should or will use the new stadium in San Diego or Inglewood as a sole enticement to finally get fans to come to games. Nor am I saying that appearing on Hard Knocks would solve any problems facing a struggling franchise. However, the fact that the team needs to regain the trust and faith of its fan base is the brutally honest truth. A move is not imminent, but a new stadium is. And I for one would love to see them featured and shed some light upon an organization that has drawn nothing but skepticism and pessimistic news over the past decade. It also just might give the young playmakers like Melvin Ingram, Keenan Allen, Denzel Perryman, and Jason Verrett a chance to highlight their offseason training efforts and bring forth some added energy heading into 2016.
Sep 13, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) reacts after a catch during the first quarter of the game against the Detroit Lions at Qualcomm Stadium. San Diego won 33-28. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports