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Wednesday, Jul 17, 2024

Chargers Find That Winning Just the Ticket for Selling Out ’07 Season

Charger fever is bubbling over, with the crowds viewing practice sessions at the team’s Murphy Canyon Road complex getting larger as the days wind down before the 2007 season begins.

“It was pretty amazing here last Saturday,” said Jim Steeg, the team’s chief operating officer, about a practice in late July that drew 4,000 fans.

At the team’s FanFest held at Qualcomm Stadium on Aug. 4, 20,000 people showed up to get a glimpse and maybe an autograph of Chargers just working out.

While the number of fans viewing practices signals greater interest in the team this season, when it comes to the real measure of fan support, there’s no substitute for the number of tickets sold. It’s off the charts.

Not only have the Chargers sold out every real game (tickets remain for two preseason games), there’s such a clamor for tickets, the team has established a waiting list that now contains a few hundred names.

Steeg said this is the second time the team has had a waiting list for season tickets, the first being in the late 1970s when quarterback Dan Fouts ran the vaunted Air Coryell offense, and the Chargers were racking up 30 to 40 points a game.

To qualify for the list, you have to plunk down $100 for a deposit.

“Our goal was to sell out this season, and we thought it was realistically achievable given how our (ticket sales) have grown in the past few years,” he said.

Though the Chargers maintained last season’s ticket prices for most seats, they raised them for seats in the field and plaza level by an average of 12 percent, with field level seats going for $92, even though some views are obstructed because of proximity to the field.

Season tickets sales at the Q finished in the mid-60,000 range , a record, Steeg said. That’s up from 56,821 season tickets sold for 2006. Last season, the total attendance for eight regular season home games was 531,031. The previous season attendance was 530,000.

The numbers show just how far the team has come from the 2000 season, when it won only a single game and lost 15. Total attendance that season was just a bit above 433,000, an average of 54,000.

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New Unis Boost Chargers’ Revenue:

Those attending practices will notice different Charger uniforms and helmets.

The redesign was unveiled in March, prompted by what Steeg said was a desire to give this team a new image.

“We had not made any changes in the uniform since 1989, and we felt that this particular team deserved its own identity,” Steeg said.

The new uniforms retain the color scheme of the 2006 unis, navy blue and white, but the bolt is now on the shoulder pads, and the fonts of the lettering were changed.

For home games, the team will wear navy jerseys and white pants; for away games, the color schemes are reversed.

Perhaps the biggest change is the helmet, which is metallic white with a gold bolt, very similar to the style of the Chargers in their early years.

The team will still wear the popular powder blue uniforms on occasion.

Steeg declined to reveal what the team paid for the redesign, but said it was shared by the National Football League and Reebok, the team’s official uniform supplier.

Some say the team redesigned uniforms to generate more revenue, since it collects a percentage of every new jersey and hat sold in retail outlets.

Because the team has been winning in recent years, Chargers gear is among the biggest selling nationally. According to one published report, the team generates $5 million from the sale of hats, jerseys and other items.

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Bonds Ball Should Fetch Plenty:

That 755th home run ball that Barry Bonds hit Aug. 4 in Petco Park could be sold for as much as $500,000. However, it won’t generate similar levels of interest as the 756th ball that broke baseball’s career home run record held by Hank Aaron, collectors say.

Bonds hit his 756th homer Aug. 7 at AT & T; Park in San Francisco.

An auction house said this year that it would pay $1 million for the 756th homer hit by Bonds.

Adam Hughes of La Jolla, the fan who caught the Bonds home run ball here, wasn’t sure what he was going to do with it, but historic home run balls have been sold for some princely sums.

If Hughes is serious about getting the most money for his prized catch, he should contact Todd McFarlane. The creator of Spawn comic books is the owner of three of the seven highest-priced home run balls; he paid $3 million for the 70th home run ball hit by St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire, the most ever paid for any piece of baseball memorabilia.

McFarlane also owns Bonds’ 73rd home run ball from the 2001 season and Sammy Sosa’s 66th homer ball from the 1998 season, for which he paid $517,500 and $175,000, respectively.

Among the other top-selling balls in history are Aaron’s 755th, sold for $650,000; Eddie Murray’s 500th, sold for $500,000; and Mickey Mantle’s 500th homer, sold for $250,000.

The hullabaloo over Bonds’ record-breaking home run is certain to result in the ball receiving a much higher price, but it could well be below what will be paid for Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez’s 500th home run, which was also hit on Aug. 4.

The reason may have something to do with the cloud that exists over Bonds because of his alleged steroid use, and the belief by many that “A-Rod” will eventually pass Bonds by, perhaps in as little as six years.

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Acura Classic Ends Its Run:

The final Acura Classic women’s tennis tournament ended at the La Costa Resort and Spa on Aug. 5 with Maria Sharapova taking the crown.

The tourney attracted its best crowds in its 24-year history. Attendance for the two-week event was 86,475, beating the record set in 2002 of 84,956.

Though an obvious hit locally, its founders and promoters, Raquel Giscafre and Jane Stratton, former professional tennis doubles partners, sold its rights to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour after it became apparent the tournament would no longer make a profit.

Luring the biggest names in women’s pro tennis to La Costa takes greater sums. This year’s total purse was $1.34 million, including the final singles championship award of $196,900. In order to continue to pay such prize money, the promoters would have had to build a much larger tennis venue, something they didn’t think was feasible.

The word from the WTA is San Diego’s loss will be Beijing’s gain. Next year, the tournament will stop in the city hosting the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

Send any news about the local sports business scene to Mike Allen via e-mail at




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