Now that the Norv and AJ show has closed to mixed reviews, what do we have in store for us?
Well, here's what I think... Another year of mediocrity as the players get used to a new system and the new GM puts together a team that jells. A new QB coach will get inside P.Rivers' head and get him to be less of a gunner and more of a manager. There will be a new backup QB and a new running back, the latter from the draft, not a free agent. New O-line, both through the draft and free agency. Maybe a new corner, too. A second draft will bring new defensive linemen, DBs and a receiver. Maybe then Spanos and his people can get the stadium they want.
As I see it, a new stadium is a must for this city. To those who think that the city should not support such, I'm not just thinking of the Chargers. Look at it this way...the Chargers use the stadium for 2 or so pre-season games, 8 regular season games and a maximum of 3 (n the case of the Chargers, usually one) game in the post season. So the Chargers would total a maximum of 13 games, a minimum of 10. SDSU uses it for 5 home games a year, high school playoffs for another game and two bowl games, so publicly funded institutions take up a further 8 games. The fact that SDSU is bordering on football respectability helps the general reputation of the city and area, making seem less provincial, even more so than just having a pro football team in residence. The two bowl games also help promote the area, not only to tourists, but to businesses looking to expand. Then there's various soccer "friendlies" that bring people from out of the area who wouldn't normally spend a lot of time in San Diego.
Now, if the Chargers are allowed to go to LA and Qualcomm becomes another shopping center/condo complex/car dealership group like already lines the I-8/SD river/Friars Rd. corridor, what happens? Think of the loss of income to the area if all of those, especially the bowl games, went away. Where's SDSU going to play? Azted Bowl? Ooops, they tore that down. Balboa Stadium? Nope, same thing. Mesa College? USD? Yeah, that'll let them maintain their standing as a mid major program. And the bowl games? Not gonna happen without a full sized, large capacity venue. Not to mention those soccer "friendlies." There needs to be a venue for all of these activities. What I don't understand is how Qualcomm came to be in such sad shape. UCLA plays in the Rose Bowl, a facility that's more than 100 years old, USC plays in the Coliseum, a facility that's about 80 years old. Soldier Field and Lambeau Field are about that old, too. Why is Qualcomm such a dump? Deferred maintenance has a lot to do with it, but, still, the stadium is less than 45 years old. It really is in the best spot for a sports stadium in San Diego, with easy freeway and mass transit access. Yeah, the former mayor and the present publisher of the local paper want to put it on the shores of San Diego Bay, and, I'll admit, it would make a very pretty postcard to send to the tourists. But, as anyone who has been downtown before or after a Padre's game, or has tried to get to said Padre's game knows, access borders on the nightmarish. Think what would happen if a Chargers' preseason game and a Padre's game were scheduled at the same time. Ouch. It might take days to get from Harbor Drive to the 163!
Given that the city and the area benefits from the existence of the stadium, I think it's reasonable that the city and county bear some of the expense of building the stadium. The state has made it clear that it doesn't support the cities improving themselves by using the tax base, but there has to be a way to get this done. The NFL has a fund, but that won't cover even half of the cost of a new stadium, even if they don't go all self indulgent, a la Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys. A stadium built where the Charger's practice field is located now, or one at the other end of the current Qualcomm stadium parking lot makes more sense than trying to build one at the foot of Tenth St. on the harbor. Better access, lower real estate costs and leaving an already money making enterprise intact seems to be the better way to do it.
As long as I'm rambling on, and thinking about how the area can make more money (and spend it, too!) I think it's time that the NFL re-thought its scheduling system. I know the current one is supposed to promote parity, by keeping the non-divisional games competitive, but there's a lack of inter-area rivalries, or at least the acknowledgement of same. For instance, Florida and Florida State play a home and home series, and have for years, even though they're not in the same conference. Oklahoma and Texas did it, too for years before they were in the same conference. This sort of thing keeps a rivalry going and keeps those fans travelling between each team's stadiums. The NFL should work on promoting natural inter-divisional or inter-conference rivalries, like Jets/Giants, Raiders/49ers and Jaguars/Dolphins. City and state "championships" or at least bragging rights make it fun for the fans. Some of it happens during the preseason, but those are meaningless games often using players that won't be there on opening day. If such rivalries don't exist for a team, make one up! Chargers/Cardinals is a natural. It's not to far to drive from Phoenix to San Diego or vice versa, and it would get fans of each team to go to the other city when those people might not do so on their own. Get these teams to play a home and home series for a number of years and see what impact it has on tourism and game attendance. Then it might be an easier sell to get stadiums built, if it could be shown that there is a real bump in numbers and cash flow due to the presence of a football team...
Enough for the first day of the year, gotta save something for later!