Chargers open season amid uncertain future

Posted at 12:16 PM, Sep 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-13 15:16:09-04
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The Chargers will open what could be their final season in San Diego Sunday when they play host to the Detroit Lions at Qualcomm Stadium.
The game comes two days after the Chargers and city officials missed a deadline to reach an agreement on a stadium plan that would lead to a public vote in January, a "bittersweet'' moment for the team, according to special counsel Mark Fabiani.
Friday was considered the last day city and team officials could reach an agreement in time to have the City Attorney's Office draft a ballot measure and get it approved by the City Council in time to hold a special election.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Friday a public vote on a new stadium could be held in June or November 2016 "if Chargers ownership is willing to work in good faith with their hometown.''
The Chargers ended stadium negotiations in June after objecting to the city's expedited timeline, which produced an environmental impact report much faster than usual.
Fabiani contended the study would not pass legal muster.
"The city has made a fateful mistake by basing its entire offer to the team and the NFL on a quickie EIR that is fatally flawed and that will almost certainly be thrown out by the courts after several years of litigation,'' Fabiani wrote Thursday in an email to City News Service.
Faulconer, county Supervisor Ron Roberts and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith created the hastened timeline because the league is poised to make decisions about relocating a team to the Los Angeles area as early as this fall, and probably no later than January.
They've said the quick EIR is valid because a project would simply replace existing Qualcomm Stadium, so the impacts are already known.
The Chargers have acquired land in Carson, a Los Angeles suburban city, to build their own stadium -- possibly in concert with the Oakland Raiders -- in case they can't make a deal in San Diego.
When asked if the Chargers want to remain in San Diego, Fabiani responded, "The Chargers have been working for more than 14 years now to find a solution in the San Diego area, an effort which has cost the Spanos family (which owns the team) more than $15 million.
"The team has made nine separate proposals, including most recently a proposal for a joint use stadium-convention center facility downtown. The city has rejected this proposal and others."
For the fourth consecutive year, the Chargers will wear white jerseys with white pants for their home opener and are asking fans to dress in white in what the team has dubbed "White Hot Sunday.''
"Players wearing all white uniforms, fans wearing all white ... just makes for an awesome opening day atmosphere,'' said Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
Fans attending the game are asked to share pictures of themselves dressed in all white on Twitter and Instagram, using the hashtag #RepTheBolts with #WhiteHotSunday, with selected photos used on the Chargers website.
Fans will receive white rally towels as they enter the stadium.
The Chargers have won two of their past three home openers while wearing white jerseys and white pants, including a 30-21 victory over the then-defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks to start last season.
The Chargers wear navy blue jerseys with white pants for most of their home games. The NHL's Winnipeg Jets in 1987 became the first professional team to ask fans to dress in white.
The Chargers will honor their late Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau on the 50-yard line before the opening kickoff. A video will be played, followed by Seau's daughter Sydney addressing the crowd.
The national anthem will be performed by visually impaired teen Marlana Vanhoose, a Kentucky native who suffers from cerebral palsy. Local members of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps will unfurl a 100-yard long U.S. "Super Flag'' during the national anthem.
A military flyover will be conducted by Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, featuring two F/A-18 Hornets from the VMF 323 Death Rattlers Squadron following the national anthem. The Frog X parachute team, featuring retired
Navy SEALs, will be leaping into Qualcomm Stadium.
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Chance Wilkerson will be honored at the Salute to Service Moment. Wilkerson has served five years and has deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit in support of operations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Each of the Chargers Champions grant recipients will be recognized during halftime. The recipients received grants to help fund physical fitness and nutrition programs at their schools.
A sellout is possible, according to a team official, who said fewer than 1,000 tickets remained unsold as of Friday afternoon.
The Qualcomm Stadium parking lot will open at 9 a.m. for the 1:05 p.m. game and is expected to fill early. Fans are encouraged to carpool or use public transportation to get to the stadium.
The Metropolitan Transit System will begin increased Trolley service with longer trains at approximately 10 a.m.