Image via WikipediaIf you have been a long time reader of this blog you probably remember my public disdain I expressed to the San Diego Chargers management regarding their decision to reduce tailgating times at Qualcomm Stadium. Jim Steeg, Chargers Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, was gracious enough to respond to my comments and offered some answers.
In a nutshell, Steeg explained that the overall rowdy and drunken behavior of fans in the past had prompted Ace Parking, (the management company that runs the Qualcomm Stadium parking lot) San Diego Police Dept. and the contracted private security company to decide that reducing tailgating times before Chargers games would reduce the amount of drunken and disorderly conduct seen in the past. I continue to disagree with that notion. This season with the reduced tailgating times I have seen just as many irresponsible tailgaters getting drunk in less time compared to when the gates opened five hours prior to kickoff. So what has gotten my panties in a bunch now? The hypocrisy surrounding the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl played at Qualcomm Stadium on Dec. 30th.
Even though the Holiday Bowl is played in the same exact stadium where these new rules were applied to Chargers tailgaters, the rules are not the same for Holiday Bowl tailgaters. How can that be? Let’s do a quick comparison:
Broncos vs. Chargers, Dec. 28, 2008 – kickoff: 5:15 pm – Parking lot gates opened at 1 pm = approximately 4 hours of tailgating prior to kickoff.
Holiday Bowl, Dec. 30, 2008 – kickoff: 5:00 pm – Parking lot gates opened at 11 am = approximately 6 hours of tailgating prior to kickoff.
Wait, it gets better!
Broncos vs. Chargers, Dec. 28, 2008 – Parking fee = $25 per passenger vehicle.
Holiday Bowl, Dec. 30, 2008 – Parking fee = $15 per passenger vehicle.
So let me get this straight… college bowl game tailgaters not only get lower parking fees but they also get an extra two hours of tailgating? How does that make any sense? Am I mistaken or were both of these games played within days of each other and held at the exact same stadium?
If the Chargers management is pointing the finger at ACE Parking, Elite Show Services and the SDPD saying they were the ones that reduced the tailgating times, then why do we have different times and different rules for college and pro games held at the exact same facility? It is not as if Ace Parking manages the parking lot for Chargers games but not the Holiday Bowl. The SDPD still patrols the parking lot for both types of games. So how does this make any sense? Am I to believe that college football fans are more responsible drinkers and can handle two extra hours of tailgating better than NFL fans? Seriously?
Have you ever been to a college football game and tailgated? Yeah, me too. The amount of alcohol consumed at a college football tailgate would make Ted Kennedy look for an AA meeting. Yet apparently San Diego Chargers tailgaters are the ones that need to be treated like children, charged more and allowed to tailgate less.
I would love to hear a rational and lucid response to what I believe are extremely valid and poignant questions. Until I get one I am forced to believe that the Chargers are a bunch of hypocrites. They are charging more and giving tailgaters less and blaming others when the policy is called into question.