SAN DIEGO — A flock of sign-wielding San Diego Chargers fans chanting “Save Our Bolts” lined the street outside Spreckles Theater Wednesday night, as fans inside confronted NFL executives over a proposal to move the Chargers football team to Los Angeles.
The meeting was one of three in thee different cities this week. Executives are holding town hall meetings in St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland to address community members and fans of the Rams, Chargers and Raiders, the three teams being considered for a potential move to the L.A. market.
Four executive staff members for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell took audience questions and comments.
One of the interesting developments were L.A. residents that came down to San Diego to lobby for bringing the Rams back to their city. The Rams spent 49 years in L.A. and left the area back in 1994. The Rams organization has proposed a $1.86 billion stadium in the Inglewood region of L.A.
Chargers representative Mark Fabriani took the brunt of blame during the course of public comments Wednesday night.
Many fans referred to the 75-25 per cent Chargers fan base, referring to the 75 per cent of patrons that come from San Diego and 25 per cent that come from Los Angeles to San Diego for Chargers games. And many of those advocated for keeping the team in San Diego on the basis that the team would lose its San Diego fans over the move.
U.S. Army disabled veteran Donny Clemmens rose to the podium and told the crowd he is from Oceanside, the same town as the late Chargers hero Junior Seau. “I’ve been all around this country for this team and my fellow soldiers.” Clemmens testified to never seeing “one person with a sign that says bring the Chargers to L.A.”
As a disabled veteran Clemmens said,
I never quit on the people who loved me, stood by my side and battled day in and battled day out through thick and thin and you as the NFL should adopt the same honor, duty and respect to our fan base here in San Diego and vote to keep them right here in San Diego.
Raucous cheering, applause and a standing ovation broke out in response.
Chargers fans Corey Menotti, Gene Fantano and Tony Fantano, all current or former Chargers season ticket holders, spoke directly with Breitbart News:
One non-fan also spoke, pointed out the common big city problems of homelessness and dilapidated roads that she said need to be addressed in San Diego. She commented that she hid during football season and indicated she would essentially be happy to see the team go.
Long-time season ticket holder Caryl Iseman advocated for seat licenses, one of the methods proposed to help fund a new San Diego stadium. “The money will be there, but we have to have the team,” she added, saying that if the team moves to L.A. San Diego fans will not make the long journey north for games. She also said, as many others did, that if the Chargers team moves to L.A. then the NFL should strip it of the name and allow the name to remain with San Diego until another team comes to the city.
“Save the Bolt sand bring back the Los Angeles Rams,” said a man identifying himself as Los Angeles resident Tom Bateman of the group “Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams.” He expressed a desire to see the NFL ask Los Angeles residents what team they want back in their city, and raised the idea of a town hall in the L.A. area.
The Chargers spent just one year in Los Angeles over 50 years ago and have been in San Diego since. The Rams and Raiders both left in 1994–the Rams after 49 years, the Raiders after 14 years.
Two stadiums have been proposed for the L.A. market: one for the Rams in Inglewood, at a cost of $1.86 billion; and one in Carson proposed as a joint-use Raiders-Chargers stadium, at a cost of $1.7 billion.
The City of San Diego has proposed plans for a new Chargers stadium, at a cost of approximately $1.1 billion. California Governor Jerry Brown recently promised to expedite the burdensome environmental review process for the San Diego stadium.
The final of the three meetings will be held Thursday in Oakland from 7-10 p.m. local time. A livestream is available for those that cannot make it to the meeting.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana