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NFL Fan Value Experience: San Diego Chargers

NFL Fan Value Experience
22San Diego Chargers
QUALCOMM STADIUM :: Opened 1967 :: Capacity 71,000

Don Miralle/Getty Images
 
TICKETS
Average Price Per Ticket$73.64
Price Range Of Tickets $54-$290
Ticket AvailabilityAll regular season games have been sold out since Sept. 27, 1998.
Like San Diego, it's a "completely fair-weather atmosphere." "When we were 4-12, the stadium was half empty; now everyone is a fan." Though "it's been pretty electric lately since the Chargers have been doing so well," sometimes it's hard to tell who's the home team." "When the likes of Denver and K.C. come to town the stadium seems 50-50" in terms of rooting interest. Many caution to stay away from Raiders games, when "notoriously drunk and rowdy" Oakland fans flood the Q. "Lately, though, the atmosphere seems to be changing, but the fans don't really have that rah-rah attitude."
SCORE4 out of 10
 
FOOD & SOUVENIRS
Hot Dog $4.00
Soda (22 oz.)$4.50
Beer (20 oz.)$7.75
Expected Meal Cost$10-$15
Program$5
Cap$12.00
"Rubio's Baja Grill and Randy Jones' BBQ both are tasty and capture the essence of the range of San Diego sports fans -- light and fluffy, like a fish taco; and meaty and true, like a tri-tip BBQ sandwich." Metaphors aside, Rubio's and Jones' place both were cited as places "you've gotta hit," as well as Oggi's Pizza, for its pizza, wings and great homemade beer." In addition, "Rally's has great burgers, and the Hebrew National stand puts the rest of the hot dogs to shame." A trip to the club level offers "numerous bars" and "carving stations," while the standard fare is, well, standard."
SCORE6 out of 10
 
ACCESSIBILITY
Parking$20
"Access is plentiful, but so are the drivers." Located "right off the freeway," Qualcomm is easily reached by car -- in theory. "If you can get to the park early, there is no stress, but an hour or two before game time, prepare to act like a baby not getting that piece of candy." With "three major freeways merging in a matter of a one-mile stretch," the gridlock on those freeways and roads leading in and out of the stadium "can be unbearable" Further exacerbating the headache is a parking lot that is "very expensive," has "too few attendants" and "fills to capacity well before the game." A trolley from downtown, however, "makes the commute rather easy," but "the logjam to get on is not always the best scenario if you like personal space." Still, the trolleys "run every five minutes or so, and you generally will not have to wait longer than 20 minutes after the game."
SCORE5 out of 10
 
TAILGATING
"There's lots of room, lots of beer and lots of girls in bikinis." There are other things, too, in this quintessential "laid-back," California "party atmosphere." "Burgers, brats, carne asada, pollo asada" often are on the bill of fare, while the "great San Diego weather makes it easy for people to grill and lay out in the sun for hours before the game." Though the team tries to enhance the experience with "a live band and a slew of TVs set to the early games" in an on-site tent, many tailgating veterans long for the days before a "tailgating section was created in the outer ring of the parking lot" and RVs weren't charged "an outrageous price." That has led some to feel the scene has become somewhat "generic," a notion reinforced by a "loosely enforced ban on throwing footballs in the lot." Still, most find it a "pretty good" experience, with "lots of good food, great weather and great-looking women."
SCORE7 out of 10
 
TEAM

LaDainian Tomlinson :: John Biever/Getty Images
Record through Week 94-4
Players Worth WatchingLaDainian Tomlinson (RB), Antonio Gates (TE), Shawne Merriman (LB), Philip Rivers (QB)
SCORE5 out of 10
 
STADIUM ATMOSPHERE
"Qualcomm is the Wonder Bread of sporting venues." "It's one of the last remaining 'cookie-cutter' stadiums, and it shows." "The giant TV screen is an ancient relic," the "seats are somewhat uncomfortable to sit in" and "bathrooms are too few and far between." "It's old-fashioned -- not in a good way." "Seats seem farther from the action on the field than other NFL venues, and the architecture allows noise to escape rather than echo throughout the stadium." Many caution against sitting in the first 7-10 rows of the field-level seats, which "are obstructed by the players standing on the sidelines." Opened in 1967, the former Jack Murphy Stadium still has its charms: "the fact that it is still kicking helps keep childhood memories alive," "the team has live bands playing at some of the outdoor restaurants inside the stadium" and the "upper deck seating is surprisingly great." Most, though, feel that "in a city with as much natural beauty as San Diego has" shouldn't force fans to "have their view of the surrounding environs blocked by this ugly, concrete bowl."
SCORE4 out of 10
 
NEIGHBORHOOD
"The immediate area is all a giant parking lot" "far from residential living." A short drive or trolley-ride away is Mission Valley, "a newly constructed neighborhood designed around shopping and eateries." "It's relatively affluent, a bit Yuppie." "The typical Southern California soccer mom can be found there in her SUV at one of the many Starbucks." This isn't "really a neighborhood," lament some, who add the area "doesn't really carry the true San Diego flavor," and that "one doesn't ever feel unsafe walking from the stadium."
SCORE4 out of 10
 
BOTTOM LINE
"The Bolts make the experience awesome, but most everything else is mundane." The problem, as best we can figure, is the Chargers' desire to build a new stadium, which, in and of itself makes perfect sense given the lukewarm -- to be charitable -- feelings fans and players have toward the place. And if your goal is to get a new football palace, there is little incentive to improve your current digs, not when you are trying to convince politicians how run-down your current home is, nor when you hope to pour your dollars into that hoped-for new stadium instead of throwing it away on a place destined for the wrecking ball. Trouble is, there are no plans for a new stadium, or a wrecking ball. So where does that leave Chargers fans? Stuck in a cement wasteland while the country's most beautiful weather hints at what could be the nation's preeminent football locale.
FINAL SCORE35 out of 70
 
 

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