SAN DIEGO -- Fans accustomed to watching Chargers home games on local television must find something else to do Sunday afternoon -- and perhaps several other Sundays this fall, as well.
With roughly 8,000 general-admission tickets still unsold, Southern California's only NFL team expects Sunday's home opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars to be blacked out.
"We're disappointed, but from a couple weeks out, we thought this was a possibility," Chargers executive vice president A.G. Spanos said Wednesday.
The deadline for reaching a sellout is 1:15 p.m. PT Thursday. Teams can request a 24-hour extension from the NFL, but that's usually done only when a team is confident it can sell reach a sellout.
Spanos said there are more than 10,000 tickets left to sell for an Oct. 3 game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Spanos said the slow economy is the top factor for slow ticket sales.
There likely are other factors affecting ticket sales in a city where the Chargers have long been the favorite team.
Then there's the divisive issue of general manager A.J. Smith's hardball tactics against two of the team's best players, Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson and left tackle Marcus McNeill. When the two restricted free agents didn't sign their contract tenders for more than $3 million by June 15, Smith slashed their pay by more than $2.5 million, giving them less incentive to end their holdouts. Smith then placed the players on the roster-exempt list, meaning that if they do sign, they'll be suspended for three games.
Jackson already is serving a three-game NFL suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
"I know fans will be disappointed, and we're disappointed," Spanos said. "We appreciate that they're passionate about Chargers football."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press