With talk that the Chargers might be planning to bolt from San Diego, rival football fans plan to rally at Qualcomm Stadium in a bid to urge the team to stay put – and convince the city to build a new stadium.
Christian Pinuelas (left), Internet Public Relations for the South Bay Raiders Booster Club of San Diego, Raymond Montero, a San Diego Chargers fan, and Tiffany Baxter, the Official Accidental Travel Writer Correspondent for San Diego. Photo Credit: South Bay Raiders Booster Club of San Diego.
Football fans in San Diego are stepping up efforts to convince the Chargers to stay put following indications that the team has considered moving back to Los Angeles, where it played for one season in 1960.
And I am NOT just talking about San Diego Charger football fans. Oakland Raider football fans - who have a massive presence in the city – have thrown their considerable weight behind the effort, as well!
"We support the Bolt Pride's Save Our Bolts movement because although we are Raiders fans in San Diego, we are proud members of the community of San Diego," says Ariel Zuniga, who is responsible for Public Relations at the South Bay Raiders Booster Club of San Diego.
"We love our city, and we understand the economical and social implications it will have on San Diego. San Diego is a tourist driven city that will lose millions of dollars in revenue generated in hotels, restaurants, and many small businesss especially from the revenue hosting a Super Bowl would generate."
Appearances by Former Players
A tailgate party and rally will be held at Qualcomm Stadium on Saturday 23 May, with appearances by former Charger players and community leaders.
The purpose of the event is to demonstrate broad community support for keeping the team in San Diego – and for building a new stadium to replace Qualcomm, which was launched in 1997.
"This is the time for the community to come together as one with one message: our Bolts belong in San Diego!" organizers of the event say.
The Bolt Pride tailgate party will begin at 11 am. The rally will begin at 1:05 pm. More details of what will take place will be announced later.
Grass Roots Effort
Save Our Bolts is a grassroots organization of National Football League fans that are committed to keeping the San Diego Chargers in San Diego.
"As an organization and individuals we know that a new stadium that will provide a venue not only to the Chargers, but several other events (Super Bowls, concerts, and championship games) that will bring economic growth to the entire region," the organization's website says.
"The current stadium is out of date and a drain of tax-payer money. A new multipurpose venue could house many events of which the Chargers would be a small percentage."
This is not the first time that Charger fans and Raider fans in San Diego have joined forces for the greater good of the community.
"Whenever you have professional sports teams in your city, players and the organization give back to the community to and provide leadership to our youth," Ariel says.
"As an official Raiders booster club, we pride ourselves on giving back to the community. We have partnered up with Bolt Pride in an effort to promote F.A.V. (Fans Against Violence), an epidemic that has plagued all of sports, and as booster clubs of our respective teams, we want to lead by example that even as rival team fans we can coexist without resorting to violence."
Home to the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League since 1967, the stadium can accommodate 70,561 football fans.
The San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball played in the stadium until 2003, when they moved to Petco Park, a spectacular facility that is located in downtown San Diego.
The stadium has played host to 3 Super Bowls: Super Bowl XXII on 31 January 1988, Super Bowl XXXII on 25 January 1998, and Super Bowl XXXVII on 26 January 2003.
When the Oakland Raiders took on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Super Bowl XXXVII, I flew half way across the world to be there.
And I remember some sports writers commenting that it was the first time in history that a team playing in the Super Bowl had a "home field advantage".
Too bad that didn't result in a victory on the field …
Qualcomm Stadium might be old, but it's not the oldest NFL stadium still in use – not by a long shot.
The Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California, was opened one year earlier in 1966. Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, was opened in 1957. And Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, was opened in 1924.
I must say, I didn't find anything wrong with Qualcomm Stadium. I thought San Diego was a beautiful city. And I salute the joint efforts of football fans there doing what they can to hold on to their team.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: We're all football fans. We just root for different teams.
Qualcomm Stadium, 9449 Friars Road, San Diego, California.