“They’ve Stayed Away by the Thousands…”

paul lowe

We all know that the Chargers left Los Angeles after the 1960 season because they couldn’t draw enough fan support to their games.  But what does that really mean?  At the time, the Coliseum had a seating capacity of more than 100,000.  The Chargers averaged fewer than 16,000 fans to each of their home games.  Take a look at the accompanying photos to get an idea of the seating bowl during a 1960 Chargers game.

Perhaps former Chargers’ center Don Rogers said it best.  “It was pretty obvious that we weren’t making any headway in Los Angeles.  I don’t know if you’ve been in the Coliseum, but to get from the dressing rooms to the field you go through these really long tunnels.  Every time we’d come out on the field, Don Norton and I would always be next to each other and we’d say, ‘They’ve stayed away by the thousands.’  Nobody was there.  A couple thousand people in the stadium and then they’d start putting them all together.  You’ve got this 100,000-seat stadium and you’ve got 2,000 people there.  We never did draw very well.”

There have been rumors recently about the Chargers moving north, back to Los Angeles.  While they would undoubtedly draw more than 16,000 fans, would L.A. support an NFL team now?

howie ferguson jack kemp jack kemp, sid gillman paul lowe jack kemp 11-13-60 #05 paul lowe, sam deluca

Todd Tobias (790 Posts)

Todd Tobias's interest in the American Football League began in 1998, when he wrote my master's thesis about Sid Gillman. He created this site to educate and entertain football fans with the stories of the American Football League, 1960-1969. You can follow Todd and get more AFL history on Twitter @TalesfromtheAFL.

4 Responses to “They’ve Stayed Away by the Thousands…”

  1. iakcfan says:

    I doubt the Chargers will move. Almost every time a team is seeking a new stadium the threat of moving pops up and the media jumps to the conclusion the move would be to LA. Even if the Chargers do move they will always be the San Diego Chargers to me. Just like the Raiders have always been the Oakland Raiders to me, despite the fact they played in LA for a while.

  2. Eddie Arminio says:

    Sad to see all those empty seats, but it was great to see a dirty game day football uniform. It was meant to look like that, also great shot of the”Intellectual Assasin”, Ron Mix.

  3. Matt Haddad a.k.a. overdrive1975 says:

    You posted another version of this article last Spring: “Why the Chargers Left Los Angeles” (March 21, 2013). This time you’ve included more photos. I love those shots of Paul Lowe. He’s a true unsung AFL hero.

    The opening picture of Lowe jumping for the pass–which you also used for last year’s article–truly tells the story. TWO fans in the stands ! ! ! That is unbelievable.

  4. 0tt060-74 says:

    I will allways be a loyal fan of the Raiders, and enjoyed their time here in Los Angeles highlighted by their Super Bowl victory of 1984. But I think they should stay in the bay area where most of their loyal fans exist. I will feel sorry for any team that moves to Los Angeles, where half the fans will cheer for the visiting team / from the place where they grew up.

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