Monday, April 18, 2011

Letter sent to Chargers Owner, Dean Spanos

Mr. Dean Spanos
President – CEO
San Diego Chargers
Chargers Park
4020 Murphy Canyon Road
San Diego, CA 92160-9609

Dear Mr. Spanos,

Thank you for your form letter of March 31, 2011. As a former season ticket holder, it is nice to hear directly from you, the owner, regarding your point of view on the current team situation.

I attended many San Diego Chargers games at Balboa Stadium in 1961 while in the U.S. Navy. Although I moved frequently while in the Navy, I always attended Chargers games while in San Diego and have been a season ticket holder many times over the years as my duty assignment would allow. I retired from the Navy after 27 years.

I was sitting in the end zone and watched the ball bouncing toward me and into the end zone during the Holy Roller. I broke down and cried in front of my TV when the Chargers beat the Steelers to go to the Super Bowl. I was at The Murph when the team arrived back in town that night and to this day, that was one of the most electrifying moments of my life.

I was an inaugural season ticket holder in the Gold Club and maintained those seats for six years until we moved to Texas. While living in Texas, we attended the Chargers vs. Cowboys game in Jerry’s World.

I lovingly operate a Chargers Fan website ( ) and have done so since 1988. I have been interviewed by both local and national TV and newspaper journalists. If you type “Raider Hater” in Google or any other Search Engine, my Raider Hater page will come up first.

We moved back to San Diego last year and immediately purchased season tickets again.

I have been a loyal fan and an active ambassador for the team since 1961. I have lived through the ups and the downs, the good times and the bad, the exhilaration and the heart break. Unfortunately, I can no longer support the San Diego Chargers organization financially.

I am on a fixed income and my discretionary spending is limited. Accordingly, I have made the difficult choice to use those discretionary funds in other areas and not renew my season tickets.

I think it is important for you to know that the reason for this decision is not because I can’t afford it, but because I feel discounted as a “fan.”

Watching A.J. Smith create his annual soap opera with Pro Bowl caliber players and draft so-so players while the team and the fans twist in the wind is no longer acceptable. His outright disdain for the media, the city, the fans, and the players is a sad (and embarrassing) thing to observe. I watched Bobby Beathard do some of the same destructive things because he was also given total autonomy and unlimited “power” and was blindly “backed” by ownership.

The team must now be classified as “middle of the road” at best and TV blackouts are further proof. The Chargers are most assuredly preparing to move to Los Angeles for a new stadium and now the saga of the “Billionaires vs. Millionaires” squabble once again discounts the fans.

The NFL as an organization and the owners as business men (which I understand) have moved the business model to the point where it no longer needs to actually care about or “need” the average fan in the stands. The revenue generating approach is now geared to constantly expanding and “growing” the game/brand. The revenue is generated, not from “Joe Fan” in the nose bleed section, but rather by catering to the corporate market. Television revenue (with business benefits from a government antitrust exemption for television negotiations), stadium naming rights, PSL’s, suites, Gold Club type sections, advertising, trade marking and licensing of anything NFL football related, and building bigger and more extravagant stadiums with taxpayer subsidies has taken the place of a need for “fans.” Soon stadiums will actually be redesigned smaller, for more intimate seating that only the wealthy can afford.

And now there is a costly legal fight on how to divide up nine billion dollars?!?! And while there is a “lock-out” and no end in sight, the average “fan” (like ME) is supposed to trust you and renew our season tickets. If there is no season, you will give us our money back. How much interest will be earned before that happens?

I love the game of American professional football. I love the San Diego Chargers. I love being a fan. But I can no longer be treated as if I am an afterthought and be expected to swallow the propaganda fed to us by the NFL, the NFLPA, and you.

I will go to my grave loving and supporting the San Diego Chargers but I can no longer contribute my pittance to the 9 billion dollar pie, and I know you will not miss it. The word “fan” was not used one time in your form letter. Best of luck to the Chargers this year and hopefully I can watch some non-blacked out games on TV.

If the Chargers haven’t moved to L.A. within a couple of years, and ticket prices are not astronomical by then, I will buy season tickets again.

Tommie Vaughn