For the first time since 1960, the Chargers will host a home game in Los Angeles. Their first regular season game will be against the Miami Dolphins at their temporary home, the StubHub Center. This is a pivotal moment for the Los Angeles Chargers. It has been a long time coming. Against all opposition and angry fans, the Chargers will officially kickoff their new era as a Los Angeles team once again.
It comes as no secret that the Los Angeles Chargers wasted no time in their efforts to do whatever necessary to gain recognition and support. However, it appears their spotlight is being shared with the StubHub Center.
A great deal of talk that surrounds the Chargers has more to do with the location of where they will be playing rather than the Chargers as a team themselves. In other words, conclusions about the potential of the Los Angeles Chargers have already been predicted and accepted, leaving the bigger question to be whether playing at the StubHub Center will be a benefit for the Chargers franchise, or a well-deserved consequence for moving to Los Angeles.
It is true that the Chargers will eventually get to play be in the bigger stadium they wanted, but that will not be until 2020. Rather than stay in San Diego until then, they chose to move to Los Angeles and make lemonade out of lemons; the lemon being the StubHub Center which is the smallest stadium an NFL team will be playing in.
Despite its limited size, there are many who are hopeful that the potential of the petite space will be an asset to the Chargers as they try to become relevant to the Los Angeles sports market and gain a fan base. When mentioning playing at the StubHub Center, Phillip Rivers optimistically said, “I think it has a chance to be a real awesome environment, but we’ve got to do our part on the field.”
Yes, the StubHub Center may have some promise. It could provide an experience vastly different than the rest. It is precisely due to the fact that it is smaller, that the Chargers have smartly used to their advantage by directing their marketing approach at selling a unique fan experience. A chance to be closer to the action, have a view of the field unlike any other, and a more intimate environment are all perks the StubHub Center can offer that other football stadiums cannot.
The Chargers know they have to play up fan experience, and because of this, former head of fan engagement for the Seattle Seahawks Mark Tamar is now a valuable weapon in the Chargers arsenal. He has been hired by the Chargers in order to boost the atmosphere on game days. His goal is to create a similar experience to the Seahawks “12th man” tradition.
While Rivers and those who think like him have a rose-colored outlook, thankfully Rivers addressed a crucial point. The Chargers have to do their part. In order to fill seats, they have to win. So far, they have failed.
During the preseason, the Chargers were ridiculed for not being able to fill the stadium. With so many open seats, it looked as though they could not attract a fan base. They did no favors for themselves ending with a 1-3 record, and so far, being 0-1 in the regular season.
Any homefield advantage the Los Angeles Chargers hope to have is lost if they do not pack the stadium for every game. With a capacity of only about 27,000, they are already at a severe disadvantage. They will need any and every person to be a source of noise in order to make the game difficult for their opponents and increase the energy. Packing fans closer to the field could give the Chargers an upper hand, but until they start winning, filling the stadium is out of the question.
At this point, it is a guessing game whether or not the StubHub Center is a blessing or a curse for the Chargers franchise. It is going to be a long process of figuring things out along the way, but they quickly need to agree that priority number one has to be winning.
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