What it would mean to lose the San Diego Chargers

The San Diego Chargers have long been rumored to be bolting for a new home in the Los Angeles area at the end of this season. On Nov. 8, registered voters in San Diego County will vote on Measure C, which, if passed, would build a publicly-funded convadium—a convention center and stadium hybrid—in downtown San Diego.

Approval of this measure seems unlikely given the polls that have been conducted about the topic. As reported by USA Today in August, only 25 percent of adults in San Diego are in favor of the new stadium being built to keep the team in America’s Finest City.

One caveat, of course, is that the new stadium and convention center combination that has been pitched would be constructed downtown. According to Bob Ponting of Fox 5 San Diego, it would also cost taxpayers a combined $1.8 billion.

Try to ignore all of the business and political aspects of this situation for a moment. At the crux of the debate is the fact that if there is no stadium in San Diego for the team to play in, the Chargers will cease to play here. As a sports fan, this is a little bit troubling.

Granted, I grew up in the suburbs of Seattle and have no real attachment or allegiance to the San Diego Chargers.

For me, as well as many other fans of the NFL who have no rooting interest in the Chargers, seeing the league continue forward without a team in San Diego would feel incomplete.

Senior Alex Cameron grew up in Fresno, Calif. as a fan of the San Francisco 49ers. While he is indifferent about whether the Chargers win on Sundays, he says that Sundays would feel off if the name “Los Angeles Chargers” was constantly associated with them.

“The San Diego Chargers definitely feel like such an established thing in my mind, so it would be really weird if all of a sudden they just weren’t here,” Cameron said. “At least when the Rams went to L.A., they had already been there before. The Chargers have been here since the 1960s. I hope they can find a way to stay in San Diego, or at least somewhere in San Diego County.”

For University of San Diego students, many of our childhoods coincided with some of the best years in Chargers history. From 2004 to 2009, the team qualified for the playoffs in five out of six seasons.

During that same stretch, the Bolts posted a 67-29 record while featuring an offense that ranked in the top five in the NFL in yards every single year.


LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 12,490 yards as a Charger, most in team history. Photo courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr

They employed running back LaDainian Tomlinson and tight end Antonio Gates while both of them were in their prime and arguably the best in the league at their respective positions.

They had a young Philip Rivers at quarterback, equipped with a thick Southern accent and a propensity for animated hand gestures and quirky, lovable facial expressions.

They had the explosive Shawne Merriman at outside linebacker, known equally for his elite pass rushing and his signature “Lights Out” dance. All of these ingredients made for a fascinating, competitive, but above all else, fun team. The gorgeous powder blue alternate jerseys certainly didn’t hurt the team’s image either.

Unfortunately for NFL fans, particularly those who have lived and died with the Chargers since Drew Brees was under center, those days are long gone.

While the Chargers certainly have a few bright spots on the roster with the promising recent play of defensive end Joey Bosa and running back Melvin Gordon, the overall state of the Chargers’ brand is nearing an all-time low.

Regardless of how a person feels about multi-millionaire owners forcing taxpayers to shell out for a football stadium they may not even want, it still remains that the Chargers are a part of the fabric of San Diego as a city.

In his short time living in San Diego, Cameron has come to appreciate the team more than he did as a kid growing up in the Central Valley.

“While they haven’t really been a contending team since I started college here three years ago, I still feel like San Diego has an attachment to the team,” Cameron said. “I’ve been to a few games at Qualcomm. It’s obvious that it’s an outdated venue and the team deserves a new one. But when you see the people packing the trolley in Chargers jerseys and tailgating outside the stadium, it makes you realize how significant the Chargers are to a large number of people.”

Whatever your stance is on Chargers’ owner Dean Spanos, the political minutiae of Measure C, or the Chargers franchise as a whole, this year’s vote could potentially alter the geography of the NFL forever. If Election Day ends with “no” on Measure C, it would almost definitely be a death sentence for professional football in the city of San Diego.

For those of us who have fond memories of Tomlinson’s record-breaking 2006 season, former head coach Marty Schottenheimer’s trademark scowl, and the immortal Rivers to Gates connection, that would be much more than a political decision.

Ridding the city of its football team might eliminate a piece of NFL history, but it could never erase the memories of the San Diego Chargers.

Written by Matthew Roberson, Sports Editor