Change is not always easy. But the Los Angeles Chargers are making it work. For the first time in over five decades, the Chargers will be playing in a home not called San Diego.
During the course of the next two NFL seasons, the Chargers will make StubHub Center in Carson their home before eventually moving on to their permanent residence in Inglewood.
For now, though, normal football activities has had a sense of urgency as the Chargers look to embed themselves into the fabric of bright lights, traffic snarls and a bit of Hollywood.
With the Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Los Angeles Galaxy already in tow, the addition of the Chargers has landed LA square one as the No. 1 sports market in the country.
With that said, the Chargers are trying to conduct business as usual as the NFL frenzy has cooled. As free agency goes, familiar faces and unfamiliar names swap zip codes and other personnel moves are being rushed to come into fruition as the NFL Draft, rookie camp, mini-camp and training camp loom in the nearby horizon.
Linebacker Mani Te’o is gone. Offensive line cogs King Dunlap and D.J. Fluker, defensive back Brandon Flowers and wide receiver Stevie Johnson won’t be back. The good news for Chargers fans is that speed guy Kenjon Barner, lineman stalwart Russell Okung and re-signed defensive back Jahleel Addae will part of the 2017 roster.
So far, the big splash for the Bolts has been the signing of Okung, an anchor on an offensive line for the Seattle Seahawks and their two Super Bowl appearances.
“Russell has been a productive and efficient tackle in this league for a very long time,” Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said. “He is an athletic tackle who will bring leadership to our team. We see him as being a cornerstone on our offensive line for years to come, and we’re thrilled to add him to the Chargers.”
From all of the moves the Chargers have made thus far, it’s clear the team is working hard to make their initial parlay into LA a successful one. The Chargers are also looking to incorporate themselves in communities in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas as they hold youth football clinics and touch down with local fans through other activities.
Fans will likely get their fill of the Chargers at training camp which will be held at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa this summer, the team announced.
“This is going to be a great location for both players and fans,” Lynn said. “We’re going to work hard, because that is what training camp is for, but we also want it to be a fun place for our fans to come out to watch us practice and get to know our team.”
The Chargers will rent the space for $150,000 annually for 10 years and dish out $1 million for improvement to the complex.
“We are proud to hold our training camp at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex and feel it’s going to be a tremendous location for us to prepare for the upcoming season,” said Chargers President of Football Operations, John Spanos. “We are very excited to create this partnership and grateful for the Costa Mesa City Council and their hard work in making it happen.”
Making it happen seems like a Chargers’ mission these days. The team has already announced that all season tickets has been sold out and the franchise created more buzz by appointing former running back great LaDainian Tomlinson, who is scheduled to headline the NFL’s 2017 Hall of Fame class, as special assistant to the owner.
That move alone should generate a lot of hype and hope for Chargers fans. Tomlinson, according to a released statement by the Chargers, will focus his efforts in engaging fans and the community.
“L.T. Is one of the most beloved and iconic Chargers of all time,” said Chairman Dean Spanos. “His active involvement in our fight for Los Angeles is vital, and he represents the very best of what it means to be a Charger on the field and in the community.”
Tomlinson, who rushed for 13,684 yards in 11 NFL seasons, looks forward to the opportunity to work with the team that launched his Hall of Fame career.
“I spent the most memorable and exciting years of my career as a Charger,” Tomlinson said. “Joining the franchise as it makes the move to Los Angeles, and helping to rally new and familiar Chargers fans alike, is an honor and a privilege. I’m looking forward to working alongside the Spanos family once again.”