SAN DIEGO — San Diego professional soccer followers however cannot very believe they lost their NFL group.

It is been two yrs due to the fact their Chargers relocated to Los Angeles immediately after 56 yrs in San Diego.

But now they have this – the San Diego Fleet, a new expert group in the Alliance of American Football that produced its hometown debut Sunday at the Chargers’ previous stadium.

And for at the very least a fleeting second, it appeared like previous occasions. The Fleet gained, coming from powering in the next 50 percent to conquer the Atlanta Legends, 24-12. Their new followers roared in the rain. They even saved a exclusive chant at the conclude for Dean Spanos, the Chargers owner who decided to ditch them for greener pastures two hours up the street.

 “Spanos sucks,” they chanted with considerably less than a minute remaining in the recreation. “Spanos sucks.”

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This sort of was the scene below on the next weekend of enjoy for the AAF. As the 8-group league carries on to debut in new cities, below are five observations about the neighborhood recreation-day working experience immediately after a chilly and damp evening in Southern California:

The followers are grateful, even though there weren’t numerous by school or NFL expectations. The announced attendance at SDCCU Stadium was 20,019 – a number that appeared to be close to double the actual crowd size. Even so, tailgate tents dotted the parking whole lot outdoors far more than two hours in advance of the recreation. Some just preferred a further soccer fix immediately after the conclude of the NFL year.

“We want soccer yr-round,” stated Steve Douglass, who was tailgating in advance of the recreation. “We never want to check out golfing.”

Other folks just missed professional soccer, time period. Douglass’ father-in-regulation, Frank Chavez, stated he missed the magic of previous Chargers video games and this was his opportunity to relive it as a previous Chargers season-ticket holder.

He previously paid $95 for each recreation for Chargers tickets but decided to enhance to $125 club seats for the Fleet. “Next week this will all be whole,” he stated, pointing to the parking whole lot and noting that the weather conditions saved numerous at household.

People who showed up got loud when Fleet managing back Ja’Quan Gardner scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to lock up the earn. Fleet head mentor Mike Martz stated he could listen to the pandemonium even though his headset handles his ears and blocks out most outdoors sounds.

“It was a wonderful supporter foundation nowadays,” stated Gardner, who played school soccer at Humboldt Condition. “We realized they were being thrilled to have soccer back around below.”

There are no star players, still. For $35, Fleet followers can purchase a exclusive T-shirt at the group keep in the stadium. It is an “Admiral Nelson” T-shirt, that includes a caricature of Philip Nelson.

Who’s Philip Nelson?

That is what new Fleet followers have requested lately. Nelson was the team’s backup quarterback previous week but turned the starter on Sunday immediately after previous week’s starter was benched for ineffective enjoy. Before Sunday, Nelson hadn’t played routinely due to the fact school, at East Carolina, in 2016.

But the league desires and desires stars to enhance interest. For this reason the $35 T-shirt with his likeness. Nelson finished 14 of 30 passes for 142 yards and no touchdowns with a person interception.

The players are humbled and not coddled. Standing following to his locker immediately after the recreation, Fleet defensive conclude Damontre Moore politely spoke with a little group of reporters for a number of minutes as he dressed. Then he produced a exclusive request to a reporter for United states Today Sporting activities. He stated he hoped the reporter would preserve masking the league and to “give us some really like.”

Like other players in this league, Moore the moment played in front of major crowds in school (Texas A&M) and in the NFL. Acquiring notice from followers and media there effortlessly could be taken for granted.

Not below. Gamers make a non-certain minimum amount of $250,000 around 3 yrs, and numerous are dwelling with roommates at a neighborhood Residence Inn. Moore opted to dwell with roommates at a neighborhood condominium.

There are no “cold tubs” or “hot tubs,” Moore stated, referring to the amenities of the NFL. But he’s not complaining. He recorded a partial sack immediately after recording five solo tackles in his 1st recreation. Now 26, he’s grateful to have a platform like this league to earn his way back to wherever he was. Previous yr, he was functioning 11-hour shifts at a Dwelling Depot in Texas in advance of staying signed by the Oakland Raiders. The group unveiled him late previous yr.

Taxpayers are not staying squeezed below. To enjoy in this metropolis-owned stadium, which opened in 1967, the league agreed to pay the metropolis of San Diego an believed $185,000 for each recreation, which includes $25,000 in rent. This amount is built to address all the charges of staging these video games and to preserve the metropolis from acquiring to subsidize it.

By distinction, the Chargers had a substantially various arrangement. The metropolis paid them far more than $1 million in 2015 alone simply because of rent credits. The Chargers also in essence threatened to shift to L.A. if San Diego voters increased a neighborhood hotel tax to assistance pay for a new $1.8 billion stadium for the Chargers downtown. Following voters turned down that in November 2016, the Chargers remaining.

The NFL’s attractiveness offers it this leverage – ample to blackmail cities and squeeze taxpayers to get the finest offer it can. That is not the situation with a new league such as the AAF.

The stadium costs are however like the NFL’s. It could feel like minor-league soccer, but stadium retailers are however priced for the NFL. Hot puppies below price $6. A 16-ounce Bud Light-weight charges $10. Each costs are fairly higher even by NFL expectations, according to Workforce Advertising Report, which collects NFL concession costs. Parking was $20, which is minimal by NFL expectations, but appeared a bit substantially for an AAF recreation with a enormous parking whole lot.

This is not the league performing greedy, however. The metropolis owns the assets and has contractors to take care of parking and concessions. The league only will get 10 p.c of internet parking revenue in excess of the 1st $150,000.

Inspite of the price, the tailgaters produced a sturdy showing despite the weather conditions, just like previous occasions.

“A whole lot of us below are previous Chargers followers,” stated Emmanuel Frijas, a previous Chargers year-ticket holder who was tailgating in the parking whole lot. “We want to rejoice some thing. (The Fleet) is something to just take a look at. We’ll see.”

Follow sports reporter Schrotenboer on Twitter @Schrotenboer. E-mail:


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