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The Press Enterprise (Riverside, CA.)
For many years, Loge 24 was Kevin Serrano's family fun zone, a refuge from the working day world.
That came to an end last week with the announcement by the Chargers' owners that the team is abandoning Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego for Los Angeles.
"For 23 to 24 years, the Chargers were a big part of my life, and they're still going to be part of my life," said the 40-year-old Murrieta resident, who grew up in the north San Diego County city of San Marcos. "The loss to San Diego, that hurts and it's a super emotional time for me."
Unlike many other fans who feel deserted by their beloved team, Serrano said he will remain a season-ticket holder, while missing the camaraderie of Loge 24, a section above the north end zone where he enjoyed so many Sundays with his mother, family and friends.
Though disappointed, Serrano, the owner of the Tap House Sports Bar & Grill off Los Alamos and I-215 in Murrieta - takes a philosophical view of the Chargers' move.
"At this point, you have to realize it is a business, and sometimes that business has the right to flourish somewhere else," he said.
Serrano is one of thousands of Chargers fans scattered throughout Southern California, a reach that expanded with Los Angeles' loss of two previous NFL teams - the Rams and the Raiders. There also are many San Diego transplants throughout the Inland region who moved from elsewhere for better house deals and jobs.
Reactions to the news that Dean Spanos and family would move their NFL franchise to the L.A. market varied among team supporters outside of San Diego County, depending on their experiences.
Like Serrano, Mark Seay's loyalty to the brand is stronger than the location. Longtime Chargers fans will remember Seay's contributions as a wide receiver to the team's 1994 run to Super Bowl, which it lost to the San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 29, 1995.
Now 49, the Los Angeles native and Long Beach State alum has worked in community relations and corporate security at Stater Bros.' San Bernardino headquarters for more than 25 years.
Seay said the move from San Diego to Los Angeles long had been rumored, "But I'm surprised they actually did it."
And no, Seay is far from disappointed or miffed.
"I always support the people who've supported me," he said.
Seay said the relocation will make it easier to attend more games with his 20-year-old son because Los Angeles is closer to home than San Diego.
On the other hand, you won't be seeing Lake Elsinore Mayor Bob Magee - until now a season-ticket holder - rooting for the powder blue at StubHub Center in Carson. That's where the Chargers will play until their ultimate destination, Rams owner Stan Kroenke's palatial stadium under construction in Inglewood, is completed.
"It's disappointing," Magee said of the news. "It's a dark day. ... I will continue to watch and root for the colors, but Dean Spanos is not going to get any more of my money."
Magee said his family moved to San Diego in 1969, two years after the stadium now known as Qualcomm opened to accommodate both the Padres and Chargers.
"We've been fans ever since," he said. "My wife and I were season-ticket holders. My parents were season-ticket holders. We rooted for them through thick and thin."
Like many Chargers fans in San Diego, Magee paints the owners as the villains in the public drama culminating with the team's exit.
"I think it's important to recognize ... a difference between professionals on the field - the coaches and the players and the support staff who all do a fantastic job and who should continue to be rooted for - and Dean Spanos and his greedy family who wanted the taxpayers to fund a billion-dollar stadium," Magee said. "I agree with (San Diego) Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who said the Chargers lost San Diego, not the other way around."
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