Sunday, September 03, 2006

In Praise of San Diego: My Favorite Road Game Experience

Obviously, no football experience can compare to watching the Green Bay Packers play at Lambeau Field, but I feel a moral obligation to support our team when it is playing on the road as well. This preseason, Packers Literary Corner attended a game on August 12 in San Diego. My decision to go to this game had nothing to do with the perfect weather, fabulous beaches, great restaurants and attractions like Sea World. I would have gone to Miami and watched a game as well. Sacrifices sometimes have to be made if you want to be known as a true-blue Packer backer.

When planning a trip to a road game venue, a certain amount of caution must be taken, because some of the opposing teams’ stadiums can be hostile toward visitors with foam rubber cheese as their signature fashion statement. It used to be great fun to attend a game at the resort and retirement community of Tampa Bay, for instance, and on several occasions Packer fans seemed to occupy at least half the seats in the stadium. Now, I have heard, the Buccaneers try to limit the number of tickets sold to Packer fans, and generally create a more hostile atmosphere for us should we go to a game there. And it can be quite unpleasant exiting the stadium in your Favre jersey and have hordes of cranky retirees spitting Dentu-crème and hurling epithets from the 1950’s at you.

Of course, after a few years on the job, the Buccaneers’ head coaches find that Tampa Bay is a hostile place for them as well. So I guess they treat everyone equally there.

Sometimes the problem is that road cities don’t seem to understand what it means to have thousands of Packer fans invade their town, all fired up about the game. One time I stayed in a hotel where Packer Fan Tours had booked most of the rooms. The hotel’s marketing department was not aware that Packer fans change into their game clothes immediately upon checking in—even if the game is two days away. In the hotel’s outdoor atrium, a large wedding was booked for that afternoon. One of the lasting memories the bride and groom have of the big event, preserved forever on video, is the sight of a small army of green jerseys and yellow cheese hats parading through their wedding on the way out the hotel.

Visiting San Diego is an entirely different matter. I can heartily endorse the experience of attending a Packers-Chargers game, even in the case of the preseason game I went to, a night game. (What I’m trying to politely say here is: NFL NIGHT GAMES USUSALLY = MANY, MANY OBNOXIOUS DRUNKS).

Perhaps it’s the Southern California tendency to be self-involved, but the Chargers fans didn’t seem to care Packer fans were there. They were actually, dare I say, NICE. I would say the Packer fan contingent numbered about 10% of the crowd that night. And since Packer fans are 10 times as enthusiastic as other fans, the decibel level of cheering ended up about even. Here are some highlights of my great weekend:

The Chargers management did their best to create an exciting, regular season feel to the game. For example, they charged us a robust regular season price of $79 per ticket for essentially about $12.50 worth of entertainment provided by mostly third-string players of both teams.

I did a rough count and discovered the Chargers have more cheerleaders than defensive players. They might want to consider flipping those numbers if they want stop the Denver Broncos’ offense. Unless they’ve discovered Jake Plummer has an unnatural fear of pom-poms.

There was an incredible patriotic display of America’s military might before the game including paratroopers being dropped from high above the stadium and landing on the field, one carrying an American flag. This gave Packers’ Head Coach Mike McCarthy the clever idea to ask if he could have a new offensive line parachuted in at half-time, but he found out it was against league rules.

The San Diego people are ever mindful, and protective of, the delicate marine environment of the Pacific Ocean. To keep environmentalism, and endangered species, in the forefront, they even changed the name of their stadium from Jack Murphy Stadium to qualcomm. I inquired and was told that qualcomm is the sound the protected California Golden Seal makes when it burps.

A marvelous trolley system, with clean, comfortable seats, shuttles fans right from the stadium gates all the way back into town. No nightmare of trying to exit the stadium and get onto the freeway, sitting in traffic for hours, getting lost and dangerously thirsty. From the time I left my stadium seat, it only took 20 minutes to get onto the trolley, travel to my hotel and find a seat in the bar. I believe that is a road game record.

Good job, San Diego! See you again soon.

1 comment:

bob said...

Is nice if a big sport event held in your home country. You can feel the atmosphere.

I hope that kind of event will happen in my country too. I still remember the last sport event held in my country was Sea Games. That is about 10 years ago.