It is official: The Chargers will be moving to Los Angeles. This leaves the San Diego Padres as the only major professional sports team in a city with such passionate fans.
This morning Dean Spanos finally made it official: the Chargers are leaving for Los Angeles. Aside from the AHL’s Gulls, the San Diego Padres have become the only team in town overnight.
Spanos said that he is looking forward not backward, and the Chargers trotted out a new logo with a Dodger-esque font joined to a lightning bolt. (That logo, by the way, rivals the new Padres uniforms in almost universal derision.) The team even changed its Twitter handle.
The Chargers’ move does not automatically assure the team a passionate fan base in L.A. like the one it leaves behind. In San Diego many of those local fans will mourn the loss and remain in thrall to the National Football League, but others may actually look around and notice that the Padres, a major league baseball team, still play here.
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Of course, it would have been easier to woo those fans had A.J. Preller had the humility and good sense to wait before dismantling the existing farm system less than six months after being hired in August of 2014 in an ill-fated attempt to win regardless of the cost. As it stands now, the Padres may not have a winning season until 2018 or even later, further extending the drought that has lasted since 2010.
Projected to lose as many as 100 games, the Padres’ front office will have to work overtime to keep its own loyal fans while also trying to win over sports fans left in the lurch by the departing football franchise. Although football has reigned supreme both nationally and locally, San Diego fans have proven to be passionate about the Padres when given a good team. In 1998, Qualcomm Stadium shook with that collective passion.
The powers that be in the Petco Park offices should be meeting and plotting at this moment to bring that passion back to the baseball team. The message should be about loyalty to San Diego, about building a winning organization, about staying right here, about recapturing that 1998 magic.