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Chargers Fans May Have to Listen to Games on the Radio


Thousands of San Diego Charger fans packed Qualcomm Stadium this weekend. We're joined on Morning Edition by North County Times sports Columnist Jay Paris.

Dwane Brown: Thousands of San Diego Charger fans packed Qualcomm Stadium the weekend. We're joined on Morning Edition by North County Times sports columnist Jay Paris. Jay, the Chargers say 19,000 fans came out to the Q for Fanfest, but I also noticed there's a lot of home game tickets still available. What's your take on expectations this season?

Jay Paris: Expectations on the field are, this team is like the economy before it melted down, you know the expectations off the field, people are still struggling and the NFL remains one of the most expensive tickets in town, and it's going to cost you 75 bucks to spin through the turnstiles. Some people just don't have that money these days. It doesn't reflect badly really on the Chargers, just times are tough. The days the tickets flew out the window at an amazing pace seem to be gone.

Alan Ray: We're at this point, I would guess, looking at, in some cases, 6,000 to 8,000 seats unsold. Are we looking at having to listen to the game on the radio?

Paris: Yeah, imagine that; be like when people read newspapers, before the Internet. Get the radio on and track your team. That's life these days, and it's certainly not restricted to the Chargers and everywhere you look the economy has affected professional sports. Not too many sports run the corporate gravy train as much the NFL. You look at those ticket prices, you look at those luxury suites, and that's that. What really makes it doublely-disappointing, if you will, it shows how popular the Chargers are when you throw open the gates and let people come, and because of their difficulties over camp with the water main break, training camp has been closed. Now, the tickets that aren't being sold may result in blackouts too. So, I think the Chargers are wildly-popular, it's just, times are tough.

Brown: Any news to report from Charger training camp?

Paris: There's still some good battles going on, I know there was a lot of Twitter and tweeting last week about the quality of food from Antonio Cromartie and that kind blew up a little bit. If AJ Smith, the GM, could send a tweet to Cromartie, "we are watching you," because he keeps landing on the wrong side of how they like to do business. Antoine Cason, who had a great rookie year last year, is pushing him a cornerback. There's good competition at right guard and inside linebacker. So, those exhibition games are easy to throw your hands up in the air and say, "well, they don't matter and there's not much competition." Those exhibition games, a lot of guys are playing for starting jobs and a lot more for paychecks. While they don't count, they count to some guys.

Ray: We got the Chargers coming in at Qualcomm Saturday against the Seahawks. Any of the stars going to be on the field for that one?

Paris: It'll be very brief. I really can't say I blame them to run your most expensive pieces out there in a game that is really meaningless in the standings, doesn't make sense. I'm not sure how much LaDainian Tomlinson can pick up by getting a carry or two. I wouldn't expect to see him or starters play a couple series. This is more about filling out your roster and filling out your depth chart than anything else.

Brown: Well, it was a fairly good weekend for the Padres at home. They won three out of four games against the New York Mets. Have they done well against them recently? What's their secret against the Mets?

Paris: The Mets payroll is five zillion dollars. Just showing you how precarious it could be spending that kind of money. They're injured and beat up and the team that took spring training isn't the same team that's out there now. And the Padres are starting to show a few green shoots. They like to say the economist, the young kids are starting to play and they won nine out of 13, Matt Latos is here to stay as a potential ace. Chase Headley has his average up about .250. They're playing exciting, young baseball that brings the energy and it's starting to pay off. They are the second-best team this week in the Chula Vista Little League. They are real close to the World Series. But, the Padres, it was dismal and there wasn't any light at the end of the tunnel and now you're starting to see, hey, there might be something here next year.

Brown: North County Times sports columnist Jay Paris.

Paris: Ok, see you guys.

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