Image via WikipediaAs a fellow tailgater, I have my favorite teams and my home stadium of choice. I happen to be a San Diego Chargers fan and tailgating at Qualcomm Stadium before games has been a highlight since getting season tickets in 2004. I recently found out that parking fees for Qualcomm Stadium will be going up 25 percent from last year ($20 in 2007 and $25 this season). No surprise there. They have steadily increased parking fees since 2004 when they were $10 per passenger vehicle. That’s a 150% percent increase in parking fees in four years if you are scoring at home.
I also learned that in addition to getting stuck with increased parking fees that the stadium gates will open four hours prior to kick off. Last year the gates opened five hours before kickoff.
So let me get this straight. You are going to charge me more money yet reduce the amount of time I can tailgate? Is that a great way to treat your customers? Charge them 25% more yet deliver 20% less? This prompted me to put together a letter of complaint that I will be faxing to the San Diego Chargers front office in the morning. I would highly encourage everyone reading this to do the same. It does not matter if you are a Chargers season ticket holder or not. This issue confronts all tailgaters who support the 32 NFL franchises. If the Chargers are allowed to get away with increased parking fees yet reduced tailgating time, what is to stop the other 31 NFL teams from doing the same?
Fax your letter to the following number: (619) 281-6974. If you prefer the old fashioned mail, send it to:
San Diego Chargers
Attn: Jim Steeg
P.O. BOX 609609
San Diego, CA 92160.
Here is my letter I will be faxing and mailing to Jim Steeg.
Dear Mr. Steeg,
I am writing to you today to express my disappointment and frustration with the way Chargers fans; tailgating fans in particular, have been treated by the San Diego Chargers, Qualcomm Stadium and Ace Parking.
I have been a season ticket holder since 2004 (account No. XXXXXX) and in that time I have seen parking fees jump from $10 in 2004 to $17 in 2005, $20 in 2006 and 2007 and now this year, $25 to park a single passenger vehicle. If that were not enough now comes news that the stadium gates will open four hours prior to kickoff. I ask you, how can the Chargers, Qualcomm Stadium and Ace Parking justify raising parking fees by 25 percent while taking away 20% of time spent tailgating in the parking lot?
I’d like a few questions answered. Is the extra $5 collected per vehicle going to improve the parking situation at Qualcomm? Will there be more portable toilets this year due to the increased parking fees? Will the portable toilets be cleaner and maintained better than in years past? Will the increased fees go towards more parking attendants available to assist fans park faster and more efficiently? Will the increased fees go towards more traffic police officers directing traffic in and out of Qualcomm Stadium? Or will the increased parking fees go towards Ace Parking’s bottom line?
In today’s declining economy when expendable and discretionary income is getting smaller and smaller, how do you justify charging more but delivering less? I have heard and read that reducing the tailgating time from five hours to four hours is an attempt to cut down on drunken fans becoming disruptive and unruly. While I would agree that we all want to enjoy the game and pre-game tailgating festivities responsibly, do you really think someone who is determined to get intoxicated can’t be successful at that task in two hours? People who are going to consume too much and create problems can achieve that goal is a short amount of time. Whether they can do it in five hours or four hours, irresponsible fans will get drunk no matter how much time they have to tailgate. By reducing the tailgating time from five hours to four you are actually hurting responsible tailgaters. It is my belief that the decreased tailgating time will not decrease the amount of alcohol related incidents inside or outside the stadium this season.
With the stadium gates opening only four hours prior to kickoff, have you considered the traffic raminifications that will stem from this? Congestion on Friars Road and the subsequent back up onto Interstate 15 is already a major issue. By reducing the time the parking lot is open you are now forcing the same number of vehicles to park in the same limited space in a shorter amount of time. The traffic congestion and potential gridlock could create a very disappointing and frustrating fan experience.
I would strongly encourage you, the Chargers organization as a whole, Qualcomm Stadium management and Ace Parking to reconsider this policy of reduced tailgating time. We all want to enjoy the Chargers’ march to another successful season in a responsible way. Taking away our tailgating time only hurts those that tailgate responsibly. If the Chargers are trying to win over fans in order to keep the team in San Diego County, raising ticket prices, increasing parking fees combined with reduced tailgating time is the wrong way to gain support.