NFL Blackout, San Diego Uncertainty Jolts Chargers

SAN DIEGO ( MainStreet) -- A week after the San Diego Chargers beat the Jacksonville Jaguars to halt a six-game losing skid, the Jags found a way to get even.

When both teams found themselves shy of a sellouts for this weekend's home games by 5,500 seats apiece 72 hours before kickoff, the Jaguars went and got themselves a 24-hour extension from the NFL to sell their remaining tickets to Sunday's matchup with the blackout-prone Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Chargers front office, meanwhile, threw up its hands after fans only bought 500 tickets in two days and allowed the NFL to black out Sunday's home tilt against the Buffalo Bills.
A week after the San Diego Chargers beat the Jacksonville Jaguars to halt a six-game losing skid, the Jags found a way to get even.

With the Chargers sitting at 5-7 and the Jags boasting a sorry 3-9 record, what's the key difference between these two squads? It isn't stability. The Jaguars just fired coach Jack Del Rio and have new ownership that hasn't committed to a future in Jacksonville. The Chargers, meanwhile, have a general manager in A.J. Smith who has allowed fan favorites to pack up and leave town without much protest and an ownership group in the Spanos family that desperately wants a new stadium San Diego is hesitant to pay for. Meanwhile both fan bases keep an eye toward Los Angeles, where plans for a NFL stadium in a major market often include whispers about moving one of these two teams west.

No, the big difference is that Jacksonville takes its blackouts a lot more personally than San Diego does. It is the league's third-smallest market and, given the $760 million price offered to new owner and moustachioed Illinois auto parts manufacturer Shahid Khan, it is also one of the league's least valuable. After a 2009 campaign that featured seven blackouts in eight home games, fans rallied and sales rose. The team and sponsors including Anheuser-Busch InBev ( BUD) also began exploiting a loophole in the NFL's blackout rule that allows franchises to buy back unsold tickets at 34 cents on the dollar.

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