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Chargers to unveil 'Bold New Tradition'

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By Casey Pearce, Chargers.com


The longstanding history of Chargers football began with Lance Alworth and John Hadl lighting up the American Football League in Powder blue jerseys and white helmets.


In the late 1970’s and early 80’s, Hall of Famers Dan Fouts and Kellen Winslow ushered in a new era in royal blue duds accented by blue helmets with a gold lightning bolt. The early 1990’s saw Junior Seau and Stan Humphries lead the Chargers to three playoff appearances in four years, including the 1994 AFC Championship while donning the white lightning bolts and a more consistent navy color scheme.


LaDainian Tomlinson and company have now brought a new attitude and legacy, and the team has made some minor changes to the logo and the uniform to give the new generation of Chargers stars their own look.


“All of those guys had their identity, their kind of uniform that made it unique for their teams,” Tomlinson said. “Well, I think it is time for us to have our identity, with our jerseys. This is our era. We’ve got great guys on this team and this is going to be the San Diego Chargers for years to come. So I think it is only right to have our own new jerseys and create our own era and our own identity.”


The navy, gold and white that Chargers fans have grown accustomed to are still present. The changes begin with a redesigned lightning bolt, which serves as the team’s primary logo. The interior of the bolt is gold and outlined with layers of first powder blue and a navy exterior. The all caps “CHARGERS” script is also receiving a makeover to a sleeker, futuristic look.


The redesigned bolt will be featured on a new metallic-white helmet. The three redesigned jerseys will follow the same color scheme as those in the past. The Chargers will continue to wear navy jerseys with white pants for most home games and white jerseys with navy pants on the road. The redesigned Powder blue jerseys with white pants will be worn on special occasions at home.


“We really love it,” said Jim Steeg, the Chargers’ chief operating officer. “The players that have seen it love it. And we think once people see the team in action, they’ll love it too.”


The main alteration to the jersey is that the new lightning bolt now stretches around the shoulder as opposed to over the top of it, a feature that Tomlinson is quite fond of.


“It kind of makes you look like you're bigger than what you are,” Tomlinson said. “I know people always say, 'Well you look small.' Now I may look a little bigger. I think that’s going to help me hopefully score more touchdowns."


The team will officially unveil their new look at a private “fashion show” next Wednesday. It’s the team’s first significant uniform alteration since 1988. In addition to LT, a handful of current players have seen the new look and are impressed.


“It’s unique,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “I think they give a uniqueness to this team…to our personality. It has all the same great colors, but it has been tweaked to fit this team. It’s really an honor that they’ve chosen our team to be the first to wear this new uniform.”



Seeking to establish a new identity for a new, unique era of Chargers football, the team is set to reveal a new logo and uniform design next Wednesday

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Are Bolts' uniform changes colored by few greenbacks?



By Kevin Acee



The Chargers' uniform change has some fans believing the alteration was fiscally motivated, suspicions that are off-base but not entirely without basis.


“Sure, eventually we will make money,” Chargers Chief Operating Officer Jim Steeg said. “It's going to take awhile to recover what we've invested.”




t.gif And as one sports marketing expert said,

NFL teams' profit from merchandise sales “is not as big a deal as the retail numbers would suggest, but it is money.” The reality is that in a good year a team nets upward of $5 million on merchandise sales, according to the best estimates culled from sources and league retail sales figures. And that number does not figure to jump dramatically – in large part due to the NFL's revenue-sharing plan and partly because the Chargers are already among the league's top-selling brands.


The team's new look was officially unveiled Wednesday before an invited crowd of sponsors and media at the U.S. Grant Hotel, as players modeled the game uniforms and helmets. Some merchandise is already on sale at the team's Qualcomm Stadium store and on its Web site. Replica jerseys won't be on shelves until the last week of April.


Late last week, the public got its first look at the uniforms. The team will wear its new practice jersey at minicamps in May and June and in training camp beginning the end of July. Not until August will the entire team be seen in the new game jerseys.


But already, amid the good and bad reviews from fans who have seen one-and/or two-dimensional pictures, there is a fairly common theme. Many believe the Chargers' change was driven simply by the desire to ignite merchandise sales and thus make more money.


The team – not surprisingly – says revenue was not the reason for the change. This was the perfect time, it says, to give the current players their own style.


The reality is this:


“Every so often (teams) change to sell a whole new raft of stuff,” said Harvard Business School professor Stephen A. Greyser, who specializes in sports marketing. “ . . . It's not as big a deal as the retail numbers would suggest, but it is money. When a team changes uniforms, it does have economic benefits – primarily at the league level.”


While NFL merchandise sales totaled $3.2 billion worldwide in 2006, according to License Global magazine, that is retail sales.


In the socialist NFL economy, teams share approximately 12 percent of the wholesale price of an item. Based on that number and the approximate wholesale price of 40 to 50 percent of retail, it is a fair estimate to say that when a Terrell Owens or Michael Vick or Antonio Gates jersey is sold, each of the 32 NFL teams gets about 11 cents.


“That's NFL math,” Brian McCarthy, the NFL's director of corporate communications, said of the even split.


“People go ga-ga over the hundreds of millions of (sales),” Greyser said. “But I say, 'Wait a minute, they only get a percentage of wholesale.' ”


The Chargers keep a higher percentage on items sold at its Qualcomm Stadium store or on the team's Web site. The team must still share those revenues with its operating partners. What the Chargers realize on sales of $4 million-plus at its stadium location and on Chargers.com is likely about $1 million, based on a sliding scale of percentages that differs between game days and the other 355 days of the year.


“Maybe if we had five or six stores, that's a possibility,” Steeg said of realizing a significant profit off the change. “But not with one store.”


The Chargers are also investing around $750,000 up-front to change everything from the carpet in their locker room to the letterhead on their stationery in order to reflect the new color scheme.


The uniform change is expected to coincide with boosted sales of Chargers merchandise. But the team's success over the past three seasons can be credited with some of the increase.


“We expect an incremental surge in Chargers merchandise,” McCarthy said. “But that's really based on the team's success. You get the feeling the team could go out there and wear the Bad News Bears' jerseys and they'd sell.”


Between April 1, 2006, and Jan. 31, 2007, Chargers merchandise was the fifth-best selling among the league's teams. That's a rapid run up the rankings, in that the Chargers were in the bottom five just five years ago. Of course, in 2001 they were coming off a 1-15 season and are now building off a 14-2 season.


David Carter, executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute, supported the idea that winning and marquee players (such as the Chargers have in LaDainian Tomlinson and Shawne Merriman) are paramount to merchandise sales.


Carter did acknowledge style and colors can affect sales, pointing to the success of far-flung minor league teams in marketing their product. But he defended the Chargers against cynics.


“I don't think a team that hasn't made material changes in two decades is guilty of shamelessly changing its mark and logo as other teams have historically been,” Carter said. “ . . . It seems to be appropriate to update the look and feel over time.”





The Chargers agreed to terms on a two-year deal with free-agent linebacker Carlos Polk. Polk is a reserve on the outside, though he started four games last season in place of the suspended Shawne Merriman. Polk is also a special teams standout and one of General Manager A.J. Smith's favorite players. Polk, a fourth-round pick in 2001, played last season after sitting the previous two while injured.


Also yesterday, the Chargers signed linebacker Marques Harris, an exclusive-rights free agent, to a one-year contract.

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