I’ve been going to Charger games in San Diego since 1995 and I have been a season ticket holder since 1999. That’s a long time. And the guys that sit next to me have been going to games for 25 years, but I only seem to remember sitting next to them for about eight of them. It could have been more, but I don’t remember. And over the years, I’ve gotten to know some game management people, who are always in my area…the first few years blocking my view of the Charger Girls with an EMT cart or some portable stages for guest performers, but I’ve gotten to know them by asking them to help me out by moving their stuff to the side and they did do their best. And I’ve meet some security folks that staff the gate I go in every week and other people like the video board camera man and his cable puller.
These are some of the relationships that I have made over the years…people you see at every game…people who are working for the organization or other Chargers fans, season ticket holders such as myself. And even though these are just people, who like myself, enjoy watching the Chargers play, we share a bond. One that I didn’t quite understand until this past Sunday.
You see this game felt like it was the last Charger game played in San Diego. For those of you that may not know, the Chargers are one of three teams that have let it be known that they would like to relocate to Los Angeles. I didn’t believe it and as recently as that morning, I felt that the Chargers would be playing in San Diego at least until next year because…there is no stadium in Los Angeles and won’t be until 2018 at the earliest. I couldn’t believe that any team would be playing in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum or the Rose Bowl for two years until the new one was ready. Maybe one year and that would give the NFL enough time, another twelve months or more to come up with a consensus as to which team or teams would win the relocation lottery.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the NFL owner’s meeting in January. This game was different than all the others I have attended and it left me with the feeling that this was the end. There was a different vibe and the San Diego fans in attendance were very loud and vociferous, cheering on the Chargers to victory. Midway through the fourth quarter, the video board played a retrospective of some the the great Charger players of the past. They even pulled Philip Rivers, Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates from the game so that the crowd could applaud them one last time. Some of the Charger Girls became a bit teary eyed as the game came to a conclusion, perhaps thinking this was the end of something special. And when the game was over, a few thousand fans gathered near field and just stood there, taking in the atmosphere as the Charger Girls danced for what seemed like an unusually long time. The security people who normally try to shoo you out of the seating area in the time it takes me to put away my camera equipment, they let us stay and enjoy the moment. They just stood there, along with the rest of us. And the sound people played songs of remembrance, like “Auld Lang Syne” and Green Day’s, “Time of your life”.
It was surreal and it did feel like this was the last time that the Chargers would be playing in San Diego. I mean if the stadium staff and Chargers management were sending us a message, it was loud and clear. This was an end of an era. Heck, a guy wearing a game management badge came up to me and introduced himself, saying that he enjoyed my Charger Girl photos…I thought that this was one of those instances where you come by and pay your respects when you know things will never be the same. I had never met him before, but he wanted to say “hi” or was it “goodbye”.
And then it dawned upon me that this may have been my last game in San Diego…the last time I will shoot the Charger Girls here at Qualcomm. I became a little sad and felt a loss, if this was in fact the end of the Chargers in San Diego. It was something that I really didn’t believe possible…until that very moment.
It was my time to leave, so I said my goodbyes to my game day friends and as I hugged my seat mates, something I’ve never done before, I got the sense that in doing so, this was the last time that I would ever see them.
* * * * *
I understand why the NFL wants to relocate a team to Los Angeles, the second largest market in the nation. But I don’t understand why they want two to move. Perhaps its because they want to collect an additional $500 million relocation fee or perhaps the era of the NFL dangling the L.A. market out as bait to extort other localities has run its course. I don’t know.
It makes sense to me why the Rams would want to move to Los Angeles. By changing their address, owner Stan Kroenke can triple or quadruple the value of his team. And I get why the Chargers and Raiders want to explore the Los Angeles market…they have crappy stadiums and why should they have to do with out what other owners get to reap, the financial rewards of a modern venue.
But something deep inside of me says that the Chargers belong in San Diego. San Diegans deserve the Chargers, heck they’ve only supported them for 54 years. And if the Chargers do relocate to Los Angeles, it just won’t be the same. Even though I live in L.A., I enjoy going to Chargers games in San Diego. I enjoy the laid back vibe of city. I enjoy the people I meet at the games. I enjoy photographing my San Diego Charger Girls. I enjoy the long drive home, where I get to relax my mind as I listen to audio books on CDs. These are all a part of my game day experience.
Yes, if the Chargers do come to L.A., I probably will buy season tickets…but it won’t be the same. And if this was the last Chargers game in San Diego, it was the end of an era…and you won’t ever see this again.
Let’s begin our special holiday coverage of the Charger Girls wearing their blue velvet uniforms with the Captains: Kayla, Tawnie, Tina, and Katelyn.
Our Charger Girl of the Day is one of many CGs that call Yorba Linda home…introducing Bridget J.!
Okay, let’s begin our final curtain call of the 2015 San Diego Charger Girls in alphabetical order with Allie, Angelica, Aussie Angie…she’s from Australia, Beatrix, Bridget C., CGOTD Bridget J., Colette and Delani.
We continue our special holiday coverage with Devin, Elizabeth, Gabrielle, Hailey, Jayme, Jenna, Karissa, and Lauren. FYI, Lauren was announced as the Charger Girls 2016 Pro Bowl Representative. Congratulations, Lauren!
We conclude this week’s parade of Absolutely Fabulous San Diego Charger Girls with Natalie, Rebecca, Roxi, Shelbi..oooh!, Taylor, Teran, Tyler, and Whitney.
The Chargers won the game, 30-14, as if that really mattered. I don’t know where the Chargers will be playing next year. I hope it is in San Diego, but who knows for certain. And if this was the last home game the Chargers will play in San Diego, then I want to thank all the women who have worn the uniform of the San Diego Charger Girls.
It’s been a helluva ride!