Chargers Chasing Northern Fan Base

By VITA REED
Orange County Business Journal

The National Football League's San Diego Chargers are going long.

While the Chargers are in talks with the city of San Diego for a replacement to aging Qualcomm Stadium, they are reaching out to Orange County and other Southern California areas to grow their fan base.

The Chargers kicked off their outreach with a lunch in Anaheim earlier this month that featured head coach Marty Schottenheimer. The team has also joined the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce.

Orange County is being targeted because of its "size of population, affluence and corporate dynamic," said Ken Derrett, the team's vice president and chief marketing officer, who is charged with upping ticket sales at Qualcomm.

"Since we have no football team here, the Chargers want Orange County fans to go down there," said Andy Ronquillo, the chamber's vice president of communications.

Derrett is quick to emphasize that the Chargers aren't trying to position themselves as a "regional" franchise, although the team has the ability to market itself to the north, the east and the south (Tijuana).

Orange County hasn't had an NFL team since 1994, when the Los Angeles Rams left Anaheim Stadium, now Edison International Field, in a move to St. Louis. L.A. proper has been without a franchise since the Raiders moved back to Oakland that same year.

The NFL has made no secret of its interest in getting back to the Los Angeles area, and among the various scenarios floated over the years involves the Spanos family, which owns the Chargers, moving north. Adding to the speculation is that the Chargers relocated their training camp to Carson.

But Chargers President Dean Spanos recently said that despite a stadium escape clause allowing the family to talk with other cities, there are no plans to move.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.