This season has been one filled with the return of the fan around the NFL. Seats that were once empty have been occupied on the regular in all 32 cities hosting NFL teams this year – including hopeless squads like the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans. Unfortunately the San Diego Chargers will be the first home team to break that streak in Week 13 when they host the Cincinnati Bengals, but it seems clear the league should have seen this one coming.
Whether you want to call it karma or something supernatural is up to you, but a Week 13 game just 12 months ago was blacked out between these two teams as well. Seriously, how could the league not have anticipated the outcome once again?
Even though the Bolts have been surprisingly competitive overall and the Bengals maintain the lead in the AFC North division, these two just don’t seem to drum up much interest when it comes to putting fannies in the seats. One would think a battle between the resurgent Philip Rivers and young enigmatic Andy Dalton would be an easier sell than many other games the schedule has featured, but that just doesn’t seem to be the case.
Now the blackout had become a familiar threat in San Diego under the tenure of Norv Turner, but many believed those days to be behind the team with Mike McCoy taking over the reigns. Unfortunately it seems the city might finally be sealing its own fate as a defunct location for an NFL team. The league’s blackout policy requires a game to be sold out 72 hours prior to kickoff or the contest won’t be shown on local television as an incentive to drive fans to the stadium. Teams have the option to buy the unsold seats on the cheap or request an extension, but the Chargers’ ownership declined to do either with their unsold 5,300 tickets.
With calls for improvements to Qualcomm Stadium soon or the Chargers will be packing their bags, this really ups the volume on the talk of the Los Angeles Chargers being reborn. It’s hard to believe in the team staying put if fans won’t even show up in support during the stretch run for a crucial AFC battle.
This roster is young, improving, and has loads of potential to grow into an AFC juggernaut once again in the near future, but it seems the residents of San Diego may be watching that happen in a city other than the one they call home. If their indifference to this upcoming critical battle is any indication, however, perhaps they don’t really care.