A Sunday afternoon at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., is quite the experience. Upon entering the stadium, you can confirm that a 27,000-seat venue for professional football winds up being unique as one of the most intimate spectacles in sports. The cheapest seats here give fans fantastic proximity and a clear vantage point of the action on the field.
Despite the novelty of StubHub, the Los Angeles Chargers’ current home, a stubborn issue within the confines of the stadium re-surfaced this past Sunday, when the team hosted the Philadelphia Eagles. An evil that has stared the Chargers in the face for weeks was now on full display against the Eagles.
In Los Angeles’ 26-24 loss to Philadelphia, the StubHub Center transformed from the home of the Chargers to the home of the Eagles.
Taking a quick glance over the reported 25,374 fans in attendance on Sunday, it appeared as if green-clad Eagles jerseys made up the majority of spectators on hand. Since the conclusion of the game, videos have circulated throughout social media documenting the Chargers’ lost home-field advantage. “Let’s Go, Eagles” chants and the classic Eagles’ fight song, “Fly Eagles Fly,” dominated the sound waves at the stadium on Sunday. On several of the Chargers’ offensive drives, the stadium rocked with chants of “Defense! Defense!”
The Eagles’ takeover of StubHub was so noticeable that players from both teams commented on it postgame.
“I mean, it’s almost like the Chargers got 16 away games,” Eagles veteran tackle Jason Peters told reporters. “It’s going to be tough sledding for those guys.’’
The Chargers’ house doesn’t feel much like the Chargers’ home at the moment.
The Chargers’ close loss to Philadelphia capped off a three-game home stand for the team in Carson. Los Angeles lost all three home contests, and the team still finds itself winless through four weeks of regular season play.
“Never in a million years did I think we’d be here at 0-4, but we are,” Chargers first-year head coach Anthony Lynn said following Sunday’s game.
Lynn isn’t alone in his disbelief. The Chargers’ locker room was a place of despair, frustration and confusion following a fourth consecutive defeat. Losing tightly contested games has been a cruel reality for the team in its short time back playing in Los Angeles. Three of the Chargers’ four losses this season have come by three points or less; two of the losses came by failing to convert on a late-game field goal attempt.
It’s getting harder to remember this, but the Chargers’ main slogan entering 2017 was “Battle for L.A.” It would be safe to assume that, at this point, the Los Angeles Rams have a stranglehold on their contest with the Chargers for football relevancy in Los Angeles.
The Rams are coming off an impressive 35-30 win over the reigning NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys on the road. Behind 31-year-old head coach Sean McVay, the 3-1 Rams appear to have a newfound spark that has the Angeleno contingency talking. (Let me be the first to remind you, though, that Jeff Fisher had the Rams at 3-1 last season before a monumental collapse).
Nonetheless, the Rams are currently curb-stomping their counterpart in the battle for L.A. sports supremacy. It’s hard to argue when you look at it from a distance.
A young, budding Jared Goff along with an electric Todd Gurley is much more marketable to folks than is an ageing Phillip Rivers and underused Melvin Gordon. And on the defensive side, the Rams boast arguably the most dominant defensive player in football in Aaron Donald.
The Chargers can certainly pick something up from the Rams: Winning can lift a franchise out of even the lowliest of circumstances. If the Chargers can string together several victories — or at least one — at home this season, you’d think that would better alleviate a painful scenario like the team had this past Sunday at StubHub. You can’t have a home-field advantage without giving the occupants of your home field a reason to support you.
For the Chargers, disinterest has been the illness thus far. Winning is the only true cure.
Angel Viscarra is a junior studying broadcast and digital journalism. His column, “Viscarra’s Vice,” runs Tuesdays.