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Periodically, we here at DFO will be bringing you actual game day experiences from our visits to real live NFL games. NOBODY ELSE DOES THIS! I decided that in addition to giving you a full report on the game and the full trip that I’m also going to be giving you step by step instructions on how to make a visit to see the San Diego Chargers play a home game.
First of all I will always refer to the Chargers stadium as Jack Murphy. Always. My first experience with The Murph was back in, I’m going to say 1973 when I saw an opening day baseball game between the Padres and the San Francisco Giants. To give you a rough timeline, Willie Mays hit a home run in that game, Willie McCovey was playing first and Juan Marichal pitched. And I remember it. Yes. I’m an old bastard. The stadium is fucking Jack Murphy Stadium.
As a former resident of San Diego, I’ve attended more NFL games at The Murph than any other NFL venue so I’ve got a bit of experience with the game day experience in San Diego
Last Sunday two of my brothers – one a Chargers fan and the other a Saints fan – and I, a non-denominational fan of either team did a down and back from L.A. to San Diego to see the Saints play the Chargers. First of all, I highly recommend not doing this and just spend a night or two in San Diego but I am here to say that it can be done.
I’m here to tell you how.
Coming from L.A. we decided to rent a car with lots of room. The first painful act was dragging my ass out of bed at 6:00 AM on a Sunday so we could head down and miss some traffic. We had also arranged to have breakfast with my youngest daughter and the awesome new grand baby. Oldest brother also has a daughter in San Diego with a 2 year old and a 4 month old and we were also joined by my niece’s fiance.
First pro tip: Try not to park at the stadium unless you are tailgating and plan to be there at 8 in the morning. Take the trolley!
We headed south on the 405 to the I-5 and exited right at Sea World Drive. There is a large trolley parking lot and station in Old Town that has acres of parking, provided you get there by 10:30 or so. This was taken right about 10:00 in the morning and there was plenty of parking.
Just a block or so down the street is a breakfast place called Perry’s Cafe that makes some fantastic breakfast dishes.
San Diego loves them some breakfast. I think it’s the military thing but there are a shitload of breakfasts spots around town. This one is open from 6:00 AM until 2:00 PM and that’s not unusual for this town. Anyway, the idea is park the car, cross the street, lay down a solid food foundation for the day and spend some time with family. Then cross the street back to the trolley station and get yourself a day pass. The idea is take the trolley to the game and then back to this station and you will avoid the game day traffic nightmare that you would encounter if you actually tried to park in the stadium lot. Day pass was about 5 bucks and just avoiding the traffic is worth much more than that. Here’s the Old Town trolley station.
As mentioned above, give yourself a LOT of time. Once you get on the trolley it’s just 5 stops to the stadium, the closer you get to game time the more packed the trolley cars become. The advantage to getting on in Old Town is you can score a seat. If you were to get on the trolley closer to the stadium you are going to be sardined in with the masses and my old ass knees need a goddamn place to sit.
When you get to the stadium, the trolley lets you off just a short walk to the stadium, there’s a convenient ramp from the trolley station to the stadium entrance.
The Saints fans represented really well for this game. The Chargers fans seem to really love the powder blue unis and the most popular jerseys were Rivers, Gates, Allen, Tomlinson and Fouts. I shit you not there was someone with a Joey Bosa jersey. Dude! What the fuck! Here’s the security checkpoint again.
This was a clusterfuck right here! It took about 45 minutes just to get through security. They wand EVERYBODY and ladies? You better be using that small ass clear bag to carry your stuff in or they will NOT let you inside.
Once you clear security you remember “Oh shit! It’s the first Sunday in October!” And guess what that means?
I did indeed wear the pink ribbon but I had no idea what to do with the world’s largest cock sleeve. Want to hear something that may induce vomiting? They called this thing a “Brand-dana.”
A quick story, the girl who was handing out the ribbons, she was about 16 or 17, accidentally dropped mine, she apologized and picked it up then handed it to me with a smile. I thanked her for what she was doing and I told her, “I really appreciate this because I lost my mother to breast cancer (true story).” She had a smile on her face for a second and then the gravity of what I said hit home and she almost burst into tears saying how sorry she was. I told her thanks but it was a long time ago. I had no intention of having that type of interaction but anytime breast cancer gets discussed I get a little emotional.
Sorry pink ribbon hand out girl!
I did notice that there were a lot more food and drink concessions than the last time I came down and the selection had dramatically improved. There was craft beer everywhere, it is San Diego after all, and tons of food to choose from. They even had a stand that made an Iowa pork tenderloin sandwich! No I didn’t try it. Sorry OSZ!
Another quick disclaimer, on game day I was on day 4 of a very nasty head cold and I was far from feeling my best. Still had a great time though.
First beer purchase was the 13 dollar Green Flash IPA. Beer in hand, let’s go inside and find our seats.
We had killer seats. Here’s some game action where you can see where we sat.
Pro tip number 2: select seats in the shade. These seats were Plaza Level section 33 and as you can see the vast majority of the stadium was in the sun for the entire game. We sat in shaded bliss for the whole game. Now it was a pretty fucking perfect 72 degrees for a high but staring at the sun for an entire game can really start to fuck with your field of vision after awhile. Remember the Chargers/Ravens game from a few years back? 4th and 26? Sure you do. We attended that game and had field level seats but holy mother of fuck we stared at the sun the entire game. You had to have a hand up to block the sun and that shit was just not fun.
When watching a game from San Diego on TV the first thing you see is a beautiful green field, bright gorgeous colors, smoking hot cheerleaders and a great visual product and you may wonder “Why the fuck do the Chargers need a new stadium?” The stadium opened in 1967 and is almost fifty years old that’s why. What you can’t see is the infrastructure and the rusted out and even crumbling foundations.
This is the stadium overhang that kept us in the shade. Just above us they had TVs!
I’m almost certain these were all stolen from a Motel 6.
The sound system was hideous. Loud as all hell but you had no idea what they were playing. I will say though, the on field product is still glorious.
I’m not going to get into too many game details because you all know what happened. Both of these teams can score at will and neither team puts up even token resistance on defense. Score followed by score followed by score. The Chargers had a 34-21 lead with about 6 minutes remaining and you all know what happened next. The Chargers fans were high fiving and cheering and shouting “We Dats” and then well, shit. Three! Three fucking turnovers on the last three drives and the Saints got out with a 35-34 victory. Fun fun game especially since I’m not a Charger fan.
Here’s a fun story: brother DJ Taj is the Saints fan and he was so demoralized when the Chargers went up by 13 with just over 6 minutes to go he told my other brother and I “Let’s go. I don’t want to see my team go to 0-4 and we can get a headstart on the traffic.” We got to the trolley station and hopped on a trolley that wasn’t quite full but it was 75% Saints fans doing the same thing. They started watching their phones and giving updates and when the Chargers threw the interception to end the game the train busted out with the “WHO DAT!” chants. It was fucking hilarious. They, including my brother, missed one of the greatest comebacks ever and found out about it on their goddamn phones while on a trolley after leaving early.
But I know what you really want to find out…
I found. BOLTMAN!
After the game, get your ass to the trolley station as quick as possible because the line to use the trolley grows exponentially the later you arrive. They do add extra trains so it shouldn’t take more than about 20 minutes or so. Hop on that trolley get back to Old Town, get in your car and prepare to drive north for awhile.
There is one more mandatory stop if you come to San Diego.
That! dear friends is a San Diego style carne asada burrito from Lolita’s Fuck yes! You can get the California burrito which they add french fries to but fuck that. Stay classic with the original. This may be the best burrito on the goddamn planet. San Diego loves their carne asada burritos at least as much as they love their breakfast. Fuck it! Have a burrito for breakfast instead! If you go to San Diego don’t go to a big fancy sit down Mexican food place. Go to a taco shop. Lolita’s, Roberto’s, Alberto’s whatever. Just trust me on this. You will be hooked.
Finally after a long day and lots of people and driving and riding we headed North up the 405 and arrived home just after 8:00 PM. We even recorded the NBC night game to watch when we got there.
Summary: Take the trolley to the stadium, get seats in the shade, drink craft beers, get some carne asada and avoid the game day traffic. Also, if you have a little concern about game day violence or drunken knuckleheads at the game I am here to tell you that the fans we encountered couldn’t have been nicer. Everyone was having fun and the vibe was party like. Great folks at least for this game.
Say “Hi” to BOLTMAN for me.
Finally: even though I’m not part of the San Diego voting public I really hope the stadium referendum is passed and the voters choose to build a new stadium. The Chargers belong in San Diego.
KEEP THE CHARGERS HOME!