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5 NFL Grinches For The 2012 Holiday Season

San Diego Chargers
Blackouts this season: Three

Team ownership hates its stadium and its deal with the city and the team's fans and San Diego officials hate ownership right back.

This team sold out 48 straight games through 2010 but started blacking out games as key players left and the Spanos family of team owners sought a new stadium from San Diego and other California cities. As Los Angeles and Chula Vista lick their chops, the Spanos family is all too happy to black out the fans who refuse to pack Qualcomm (QCOM) Stadium as the team drifts further into mediocrity. This year's record so far: 4-8.

"We're in one of the oldest stadiums in the league, and don't have opportunities that other teams have to increase revenue with things like a bigger naming rights deal or digital signage," executive vice president and CEO A.G. Spanos told the North County Times. "We rely heavily on ticket sales as a primary revenue stream. This market has shown an ability to sell out games over the last 10 years, and we need to take advantage of that."

San Diego has extended the Spanos family its longest digit in response.

During this year's mayoral debates, San Diego mayoral candidates U.S. Rep. Bob Filner and Carl Demaio vowed they would not devote public subsidies toward a new Chargers stadium if elected. Newly minted Mayor Filner was even more forceful, saying, "Enough of the extortion from our sports teams, whether they be the Padres or the Chargers." He later added "no extortion of the public money by the San Diego Chargers when I'm mayor."

Filner also stated, "I would like to see San Diegans have part ownership of the team." When asked how this was possible since NFL rules prohibit public ownership, Filner said, "The NFL is not the Ten Commandments; it's not the Constitution of the United States. NFL rules can change."

Corporate sponsors including the team's local CBS affiliate bought out tickets and kept the Chargers' Nov. 1 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs on the air, but they've had two home games blacked out since. With the Denver Broncos already clinching the division title in the AFC West and the Chargers dropping their past four games, a run to 8-8 seems unlikely.

The blackouts may not be over, but the love affair between San Diego and the Chargers may well be.

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