Until last season, the New Orleans Saints haven't made it out to Southern California very often, but SoCal residents like myself really lucked out with the Saints making two trips to Los Angeles this year. They will face the Rams at the LA Memorial Coliseum in November, but this first trip took place in the NFL’s most unique venue.
For the next few seasons, the Los Angeles Chargers will play their home games at StubHub Center, a 14-year old venue built for soccer (MLS’ LA Galaxy) and is often used for concerts. It will remain the Chargers’ home until the new stadium in Inglewood, California (near LAX) is complete. That stadium will be the home of the Los Angeles Rams, but the Chargers will share the stadium with them, much like New York’s deal with the Giants and Jets.
StubHub Center is located in Carson, California (roughly halfway between Downtown LA and Long Beach) and is as unique and intimate a venue as the modern NFL has ever seen. Seating only 27,000 fans, StubHub Center is the smallest venue in the league by more than half of the second smallest capacity, in Chicago’s Soldier Field (61,500). This place really epitomizes the “not a bad seat in the house” venue.
I didn't capture the Alvin Kamara opening touchdown, as we were seated in the opposite endzone and it happened so fast. We were all celebrating the play so much that I didn't even reach for my phone. Who Dat Nation took over early in the game, along with the Saints, and stayed proud and vocal throughout.
StubHub Center gets ready for NFL action.
The Chargers placed scaffold-style bleachers over the StubHub Center lawn, then proceeded to tarp it off.
Good seats make for a great up-close view of Thomas Morstead.
Drew Brees getting ready to enjoy the sideline for a few hours.
Drew probably asking Sean Payton if the team can stop at In-N-Out Burger for some “Animal Style” Double-Doubles after the game.
The flowing locks of rookie linebacker, Alex Anzalone.
Michael Thomas getting focused for the game at hand.
The time-honored tradition of the cheerleader shot, made famous by Dave Cariello.
Wil Lutz kicks the game off.
Both Drew Brees and Philip Rivers are out, so the Saints get ready to harass Kellen Clemens.
The Saints defense makes way for the special teams unit.
Manti Te’o enjoying his monster game so far.
The Saints defense stuffs the run, nearly getting a safety.
Tommylee Lewis may be small in stature, but he’s looking to come up big on the 53 man roster.
Ryan Nassib taking over the Saints offense.
Morstead with the punt from his own end zone.
Cardale Jones leads the Chargers offense into scoring position.
A great strip at the ball leads to a turnover.
The Saints defense swarms on the fumble.
Nate Stupar after coming within inches of a pick-six.
Ryan Nassib about to throw a pass to put the Saints on the goal line...
The pass is then intercepted and about to be returned 99 yards for an LA TD.
Nassib brings the Saints into field goal range.
Lutz puts the Saints up 13-7.
Cardale Jones takes his first sack from the Saints pass rush.
Al-Quadin Muhammad takes Jones down a second time.
Muhammad pressures Jones again on fourth down.
The pressure leads to Adam Bighill’s game-clinching interception.
The Saints defense celebrates as the game comes to an end.
The Saints bench erupts with joy as a preseason victory is finally at hand.
Yours truly enjoying a Saints preseason win, finally.
It was a great atmosphere to go along with a great defensive effort by the Saints. The Saints finally won a preseason game after losing its ten previous contests, and you could tell it meant something to the team. Hopefully they can carry this over into the next game in the Superdome, where we should see more of the starters.
As you could tell from many of the photos above, there were a lot of empty seats throughout the game. Even though its only preseason, this has to be alarming to the Spanos family as they desperately look to build a fanbase in Los Angeles, where the Rams have not only have a one-year head start, but a long history in the city. Visiting fanbases will continue to dominate, so their team will need to learn to win, and quick, before moving into their 70,000 seat stadium in 2020, where they could find themselves as second-class tenants.
I had a blast, and I hope to hear from more of you who may have been in attendance as well. If you were there too, leave us your impressions in the comments below. I look forward to doing this again at the Rams/Saints game following Thanksgiving! Who Dat!