There were many points brought up by the San Diego Chargers fan base during Wednesday night's public hearing with NFL executives. But two of their beliefs came through loud and clear:
1) This fan base supports the team.
2) Mark Fabiani is the Anti-Christ.
Throughout a night of impassioned pleas from a multitude of fans (an estimated 450 filled Spreckels Theater in Downtown San Diego) those common themes were reinforced several times.
"We love our team," was said over and over.
"We are a major market, larger than several other current NFL markets that are not in danger of losing their teams," was a common refrain.
"We have had failed leadership in the past but we are fixing that with our current government," was hammered home by speaker after speaker.
"Don't forsake the 75% of fans here for the 25% of fans in L.A.," was a point of emphasis of those who had a shot to share a story with NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman, the league's point man on Los Angeles relocation who was one of four members of Commissioner Roger Goodell's office to sit on stage.
And of course there was plenty of bile spit at the Chargers Special Counsel. Mark Fabiani opened the night addressing the crowd. He shared the reasons why the team feels a new stadium will not get built in San Diego and was, predictably, booed vehemently. After that a bunch of speakers went after Fabiani.
For example, council member Scott Sherman, who is from the district where the Mission Valley stadium site is located, skewered Mark Fabiani, asking for someone with integrity to negotiate with.
While it drew cheers from the crowd it likely did not do much to help the cause of trying to keep the Bolts in town. The NFL is not interested in who does not like whom. It's interested in which city (San Diego, St. Louis, Oakland) makes the most sense to keep its franchise. It wants to know which community can get a new stadium deal done.
If the NFL is interested in which community is most emotionally invested in keeping its team then it will be awfully difficult to top the outpouring of emotion we witnessed on Wednesday night.
Now, the event was not one giant Kumbaya. A few folks who do not fully support a new NFL stadium in San Diego also voiced their views.
One dissenter presented his opinion that public money should not be used on a football stadium and was interrupted by heckles and boos multiple times. However Frank Paiano, a business professor at Southwestern College, eventually won over the crowd when he called out the NFL for using LA as a bargaining chip and having no true intention to move a franchise back there.
"If you really wanted to be in LA you would have put an expansion team there years ago," said Paiano to a rousing round of applause.
Eventually Grubman addressed the crowd. His message seemed to be one of cautious optimism:
"We know how much a team's name is intertwined with the city. I don't want any city to win over any other city. We want success in each of those markets. We want a team to be there and be healthy."
So that's awesome news for Bolts backers, right? It would have been if Grubman had not also mentioned this:
"I think it is possible that if a team applies for relocation the owners could vote as soon as January."
The Chargers, Rams and Raiders are all expected to file relocation papers when the January 1, 2016 window opens. None of the people in Spreckels Theater on Wednesday night has one of those votes. But the night did end on a positive note when Grubman offered this:
"We haven't given up. If we had given up we wouldn't be here."
Fans who were not able to speak or make it to the meeting can submit comments online at SD.firstname.lastname@example.org. The league will put together a presentation to present to all the NFL owners.