When I was very young and growing up, San Diego, with it’s beautiful weather and beaches seemed like the up and coming city for pro sports. The Braves had moved to San Diego (renamed the Clippers), the other pro sports teams featured stars (and future HOF stars) like Ozzie Smith, Dave Winfield, Rollie Fingers, Gaylord Perry, Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner, Kellen Winslow, and Fred Dean. Even in recent times, the Chargers had gone to the playoffs six times since 2004, while the Padres led the NL West in 2010 for 148 games before losing out to the Giants.
2010 was the year that changed everything for pro sports in San Diego, the Padres did not and have still not recovered from that late season collapse (the Giants have won 3 titles and the Dodgers have won the division the last 4 seasons) and the Chargers had their first home TV blackout (first since 2004) due to declining ticket sales. It would mark the beginning of the end for the Chargers in San Diego.
The citizens of San Diego voted against Measure C in November (56% against) and owner Dean Spanos decided he’d rather pay a $650 million dollar relocation fee than use that money towards a new stadium in San Diego. Just think about that? Spanos and the Chargers decided that San Diego isn’t an NFL town worth investing in anymore, similar to what Donald Sterling had decided many years ago with the Clippers (they averaged about 6,000 fans a game their last season in San Diego).
The Clippers and Chargers are now gone, you’d think San Diego would at least be able to support a new MLS team but even that’s hit a roadblock according to Paul Kennedy at Soccer America Daily with it now looking unlikely.
The Padres, fortunately are still able to draw well at their jewel of a park, Petco Park, but unfortunately for their fans the team still hasn’t been able to figure out how to consistently win there (hint: big park means build a team around pitching and defense and don’t expect top hitting free agents to land there on the cheap).
The Padres, is the only team left, but are 22 games out on the 10th of July. Pro sports in San Diego has literally become a “Pro Sports Wasteland”.