A franchise without a home, with no fan base in the city, and stripped of all tradition; that is the current state of the Los Angeles Chargers. Beyond being a 1-2 team with injuries across the board and a superstar holding out, the Chargers organization has been in a two-year state of transition.
This was my first Houston Texans away game. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a majority of the home games since the team started playing in 2002, but I never have been on the opposing side. Though sometimes when watching [NAME REDACTED] in 2016, I felt like mutinying at any moment. We picked LA since it was a short flight from my current San Francisco, we have friends who live in this city, and it’s arguably the best city Houston plays in this year. Kansas City was a close second, but the schedule didn't quite work for that weekend.
LA is famous for three things: celebrities, traffic, and music.
First, before the game, Don Cheadle casually propped open the door for us as we walked into a restaurant. Such a nice thing for War Machine to do.
When we were entering the stadium, out of the corner of my eye I spotted McKayla Maroney, Olypmic gold medalist, right next to me in line. Not every day you get to see a world champion athlete in person.
Second, we had to wait in two hours of traffic heading home from the game. It was absurd. Even when there were only 26,000 people in attendance, the city was in gridlock.
And for music? Well, we had the famous Snoop Dogg on the mic at the stadium in the first quarter. He wasn't singing; instead he was commentating every other play when the defense was on the field. Only in the first quarter, though.
We got the full LA experience in about three hours. But we got it in the type of way a magician at a little kid’s birthday party only performs for 25 minutes of an hour-long booking.
This was our view of the field. As you can see, there is a single deck on the home field side. Our seats were the first row of the upper deck on the visitor’s side. Even though we are in the second deck, we are pretty close to the field with a decent vantage point to watch football. One thing I didn’t notice until listening to John Harris of the Houston Texans is that the field is flat since it’s used for MLS games. Almost every NFL field has a degree of curve to it.
I can't remember the last time the Texans opened up NRG’s roof to let the sun in during a game, but after about an hour and a half in the LA sun, I remembered baking in Houston’s heat in the early 2000s. Outdoor games are entertaining and traditional, but I’ll skip the sunscreen and nostalgia for a nice controlled climate.
The NFL, along with all other major American sports leagues, strives to sell the entertainment value of attending a sporting event. Similar to the Texans, the Chargers had a small cannon they shot off after each score. After each first down, they blasted what was intended to be the sound of electric static over the loud speaker to tie the noise back to the Chargers’ logo. At the decibel they were playing it at, it lost its intended effect after a couple first downs. With every couple plays, the Jumbotron would play a meme on the screen. From Patrick Starr to Napoleon Dynamite, the Chargers really were showing memes during the game. Though the concessions looked to be of NFL caliber, the whole fan experience looked to be put together hastily, like they know they won't be there for long. Even the PA announcer at the game slipped up and said San Diego in the third quarter.
The stadium itself was nice, and the fans were a class act. Nothing is worse than when a team's home fans are disrespectful to the opposing team’s fans. I love a good round of bickering and jawing, but the fact that there are fights in the stands at some NFL game boggles my mind. I did not see any of the sort this past weekend.
I bet 20% of the Chargers fans in that stadium were from San Diego. Along with Philip Rivers, they made the long drive up I-5 (what LA natives call “The 5”) to support their team.
Oh, and this: The Chargers were handing this poster out AFTER the game. Guess they didn’t think they were going to lose.
$100 is what I paid to park at the stadium. I’ve never been scammed, but I would have rather had Roger Goodell rob me blind himself than let this atrocity occur again. Parking was more expensive than my ticket was. At NRG Stadium, there’s no paid parking. You either have a parking ticket or you find yourself a spot on the street. The mayhem that occurred from innocent tourists such as myself trying to find parking in Los Angeles traffic was something to behold from a logistics standpoint. Just like in NRG coming from Kirby there’s no easy straight-on access to the parking.
Obviously it’s a lot more fun to write about the negatives than all the positives. Soon the Chargers will be in a new state of the art stadium and this awkward period will pass. The play on the field was well worth the price of admission...and the $100 we had to pay in parking was as well. What the Chargers don’t have today is a home and local fanbase. This will soon subside. Winning heals all wounds.