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Blackouts, Champions and Greed

As a loyal Packers fan that has figured out the relatively-easy formula for figuring out the NFL schedule – or at least upcoming opponents and venues – I knew before I even moved to San Diego that the Packers would be playing in Mission Valley  in 2011. How did I know this? Because the Packers last played the Chargers in 2007, and their most recent trip to SD was in 2003. I knew they were scheduled to be in Qualcomm Stadium – and I knew I was going to be there.

Now, it’s hard to tell.

When the 2011- 12 season schedule was revealed, I circled November 6 – Green Bay @ San Diego – on the calendar. (I don’t own an actual calendar, so this was a hypothetical calendar, if you will. Just bare with me.) When the lockout came to a close in late-July, I got even more excited, knowing that the Packers really were going to be playing a mere five minutes from my house in just a few short months.

From there, I eagerly awaited single-game tickets to go on sale. And waited. And waited. Seriously, the Chargers single-game tickets seemed to be some of the last made available in the NFL, odd given that a team who failed to sell out three of their first four home games would continue to make SD football fans hang on their every move. Finally, it was announced that single-game tickets would be going on sale in mid-August. Bang biscuit!

Well, not so much. Much to my disappointment, the only game that would NOT be going on sale was the matchup set for Nov. 6; you guessed it, the Packers game was being held hostage.

OK, so technically tickets to this game were on sale, but if you wanted a piece of the green and gold magic, you had to purchase a separate ticket at full price for the upcoming Seahawks preseason game at the Q. And given that preseason tickets (unbelievably) cost the same as regular season tickets, there was no way I’d be ponying up $150 (times two if I wanted to bring a friend) for a football game. Seriously – I’m 24. What do we no about 24-year-olds? They don’t have any money. And they’re (mostly) stupid.

Anyways, the game against the Seahawks comes and goes (forgettably), so that very same night I log on to Chargers.com to see if Packers tickets have become available. Fully prepared to drop some serious coin, I jump right to the tickets page only to find that the Packers game was now part of a separate package with the 49ers preseason game. What the motherfuck?

Let! Me! In!

Given the limited bitching tools I have at my disposal, I took to Twitter, where I would clearly stand out amongst the millions. I sounded off with a pair of consecutive tweets aimed at @chargers – with no response, of course. I cooled off, figuring that the masses would wait out the preseason games and there would still be plenty of Packers tickets available.

So yesterday’s game against the Niners comes and goes (again, forgettably – there’s absolutely no need for four preseason games, other than, ya’ know, to make more money). Again, I log on to Chargers.com and, even though I got lit up with a pair of parking tickets and a car that wouldn’t start this weekend (tough stretch for Big Blue, but she’s running like a champ now that her loose wires have been tightened – and yes I mean that literally), I was still ready to buy, even if it meant a whole lot less fun the next few weeks months.

I get to Chargers.com – and what I found has me seriously questioning why this franchise even bothers around here. They’ve since attached the Packers game to both the Vikings and Chiefs games at the Q – two match-ups almost guaranteed not to sell out. Basically, they’re holding fans of the Super Bowl XLV Champs hostage in hopes that it will save them from another mess of local TV blackouts this upcoming season.

Essentially, the Chargers are banking on a Packers game two months into the season to save them from dipping attendance figures and costly blackouts. I’m not sure how they’re allowed to do this – I can’t remember ever being forced to buy tickets to one game, movie, or concert just so I could go to another similar event. It’s greedy, conniving, sad, pathetic and potentially a genius move by the Chargers. But it sure as hell doesn’t make it right.

I know, I’m coming off naive here – but after we listened tuned out a Summer of NFL owners bitching and moaning about how to divide their billions of dollars in profits, essentially holding fans hostage until they worked out some lame-ass deal only marginally different than the last one, I was hoping they’d throw fans a bone. Like, ya’ know, making their phenomenally high-priced tickets available to the average consumer. Nope – I was wrong.

To be fair, the Chargers were one of few NFL teams that actually lowered some ticket prices this season, and I mean, this situation isn’t life or death or anything. (And the recent floods in my home state of Vermont have definitely put a lot of this in perspective, which goes to show you I’ve still got some maturing to do when it comes to my priorities and, well, just about everything else.) But as a life-long Packers fan that flew 3,000 miles home last February to watch them win the Super Bowl with my old man, I think you could say I’m a loyal dude when it comes to the things I truly care about.

The Chargers, meanwhile, have been anything but loyal to their ever-dwindling fan base. This is a team that refuses to spend money when it’s on the cusp of greatness, and their zero NFL titles is proof that their vaunted player-development strategy is flawed. It’s no wonder why the city of San Diego refuses to build them a new stadium – why should tax-payers be on the hook for a team that doesn’t seem to feel mutual respect with the ones paying ALL of their salaries? Pretty soon, the San Diego Chargers will be the L.A. Chargers, and given the (extreme) lack of urgency shown by the people of San Diego to keep the Bolts in town, the relationship between the team and the city has c been bruised for quite some time.

So, it remains to be seen if I’ll be cheering on Rodgers, Matthews and Jennings from the stands or from the bar. As much as I’d love to support my team in person, at some point it’s just not worth it. I’ll just say this – the Packers would NEVER pull these kinds of tricks, and their fans love them for it.

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