Fans are finally going to Chargers games, but they’re not Chargers fans

It’s football season again, which you can tell because people are fighting about kneeling during the national anthem again, and which means it’s time to check in on whether Los Angeles Rams and Chargers games are still full of empty seats. And the answer, for the Chargers, at least, who held their home opener on Sunday, is: Not entirely, but they might have wished it was:

With no fan footprint in Los Angeles (and many San Diego-based fans feeling abandoned by the move), the 27,000-seat StubHub Center has doubled as an extra home game for visiting teams. The Eagles famously had 80 percent of the stadium last year, and it was more of the same when the Kansas City Chiefs came to town for Week 1.

Here’s a photo of the Chiefs in front of a crowd dressed almost entirely in red for the road team:

As USA Today notes, this is in the 27,000-seat Stubhub Center; when the Chargers move to their new 70,000-seat stadium next year the year after next, they’re either going to end up with even more visiting fans, or with a ton of visiting fans and a ton of empty seats, which would be even worse. Or maybe, just maybe, there are lots of Chargers fans out there just biding their time until they can see football in a giant modern football stadium instead of in an intimate modern soccer stadium, and … yeah, I’m not seeing it either.

The Rams have their home opener on Sunday, against the Arizona Cardinals, which would seem to be ripe for visiting fans making the jaunt from one state over to visit the L.A. Coliseum. I’ll be watching, by which I mean watching Twitter, because even the prospect of a carpetbagging team owner being embarrassed by poor turnout isn’t enough to make me watch the NFL.

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20 comments on “Fans are finally going to Chargers games, but they’re not Chargers fans

  1. There are basically two football teams LA cares about…… USC & UCLA. Even the Rams are the “Other” team in the City, which is why the Chargers will eventually move. Either back to San Diego or the next City that gives them the type of deal the Raiders received from Las Vegas.

    1. College football attendance has gone down 7 straight years. Announced attendance is on average 30-40 % above actual attendance. Are you sure people still care about football in LA. Colleges do have built in attendance of students and faculty.

      1. The rich white people in LA and OC care a lot. Everyone else,not so much in varying degrees. I’m an OC transplant who has to mingle for work and it’s Alabama /Auburn if 90210 was ‘bama and The OC was Auburn. Except even lamer.

    2. The NFL team LA wanted and wants is the Raiders. NFL Hall-of-Famer Jerry Jones and his closed-door “no Compton naggers!” edict prevented that. Nevertheless, as a division rival of the Chargers, the Raiders still have an annual home game in LA. I eagerly await the spectacle of the Raiders’ unique fan base marking their territory in Mr. Ann Walton’s state-of-the-art sports cathedral.

      1. So I think what you’re saying is:

        1) Jerry Jones is racist
        2) Raiders fans are bad people
        3) Stan Kroenke is emasculated because it’s his wife’s money?

      2. The Raiders certainly captured a section of LA’s hearts when they played at the coliseum. However, that experiment ended nearly a quarter century ago.

        What evidence is there that the Raiders still have appeal in LA? The fact that some people still wear Raiders gear?

        As I recall, Raiders gear became another form of gang signage in 80s LA. Absent that connection (which I’m guessing the league was never all that thrilled with), is there any reason to believe that real fan affinity for the Raiders still exists in LA?

        I’ve seen the 30 for 30 film on the Raiders in LA too, but I really don’t see anything that suggests that love affair was anything but an 80s/early 90s fan version of a teenage romance.

        If the Raiders were to move back to the Coliseum and charge $15/ticket like they used to, I guess it’s possible the community would buy in (although meeting up with your high school girlfriend when you are both in your 50s is generally not a good idea). But I don’t see the people who loved them in 1984 ponying up for PSLs and club seats in Inglewood.


          In fairness, the Plaschke article was before the Spanos Chargers moved north, and the map is five or so years old. Nevertheless, the L.A. Times reporter seems to capture more than a blip of pro-Raider sentiment in L.A. And if the Raiders were more Facebook-popular in L.A. than anywhere else (even the Bay Area) while in OAK, then there is little reason for the L.A. popularity to wane with the Raiders closer by 1/3 or so in L.V.

          For what (very little) it’s all worth.

          1. You’re right. And people from LA love making the trek up I-15 to Vegas. It takes about 4-5 hours compared to the trip to Oakland. Fans can travel up to Vegas the night before a game, tailgate, watch the Raiders, and drive home.

  2. The LA stadium isn’t set to open next year. 2020. Chargers haven’t announced where they’ll play next year, I don’t believe, although I assume it’ll be one more year at Stubhub.

  3. So, let’s start a pool…. which of the California carpetbaggers/movers (if white supremacists – presidential or otherwise – can invent insulting names for the protesters who wish to exercise their first amendment rights during the playing of the national anthem, we can certainly do the same for billionaire sports franchise owners who manage to bungle the simplest home town extortion game going) will be forced to sell first?

    a) Dean Spanos – because absolutely nobody cares about his team in Los Angeles today any more than they did in 1960?

    b) Mark Davis – because he has no non-NFL revenue to fall back on and has taken on too much debt in a market that is not yet proven able to support the NFL?

    You can vote for the Yorks if you wish… but for all their obvious incompetence, they did manage to get a stadium built more or less in a location their existing fan base can and will reach.

    1. I’ll go with the “more” option in “more or less” in relation to the Yorks and Santa Clara. The players’ residences, training camp, and fan base have been in or skewed towards Santa Clara County for decades.

    1. The small soccer stadium is actually a good place to watch a game.

      As my screen name indicates, I live in LA. I do see Rams shirts/hats etc on adults and kids around town. Still some Raiders, but hardly any Chargers.

      The Chargers be it in Carson, Inglewood or San Diego are destined to draw a disproportionate number of visiting fans. The Raiders will probably experience this in Las Vegas as well

      1. Except the Raiders will get their fans from Los Angeles. At worst, it is only a 5 hour drive between Vegas and LA.

        1. LA residents scoff at driving anywhere over an hour. 5 is a tough sell, and won’t bring the Raiders any season ticket/PSL customers.

        2. It’s also only a five-hour drive for people in LA who root for teams other than the Raiders, and might be interested in a weekend jaunt to Vegas that involves watching their favorite teams in person.

          Even Jerry World saw a pretty big influx of visiting fans during its early years, and it’s home to one of the most popular teams in all of America. I think the dynamic would be more pronounced (and more protracted) in Vegas

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