Chargers struggle to find Suffolk home

Published 10:21 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Chargers are a semi-professional football team that was started to help represent Suffolk, but they are playing in Chesapeake after encountering difficulty finding a home field in the city that the team can afford.

The team’s first home game took place at Peanut Park. The Chargers and Suffolk Parks and Recreation Director Lakita Watson were not expecting a huge crowd.

“When the original request came in from the Chargers, it indicated that the attendance would be up towards 50 individuals coming out,” Watson said. “Actually, once the event was held, we had upwards of 500 to 600 people to show up at Peanut Park.”

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Chargers owner Angela Harper was informed by Parks and Recreation that she would need to find a larger venue. The field selected was at John F. Kennedy Middle School, which is a Parks and Recreation rental facility on evenings and weekends.

“As with any large event of that nature, we also require security, which in this case, would be Suffolk Police Department, to assist with traffic, as well as crowd control and parking,” Watson said.

The fees amounted to $1,000 for a single game, based on the number of hours the field would be used and the number of officers needed for the expected number in attendance.

Harper has gotten the Chargers up and running through her own funds and fundraising efforts, but she has not been able to raise this amount, particularly on short notice.

“I went through a whole lot to try to get the field, and then once I got it, it was like they were still fighting me for it, and it was like they just really didn’t want it to happen,” Harper said. “That’s the way I felt.”

Harper asked if she could provide her own security, since she had some detectives from the Suffolk Police Department who had volunteered their time to the team.

“They told me I couldn’t do that, either, because it was unfair to the Suffolk Police Department,” Harper said.

Despite the roadblocks, Watson related the city’s positive perspective on the Chargers.

“We support and think that it was a wonderful opportunity,” Watson said. “However, at the same time, our first responsibility is public safety in an event of that size and that caliber.”

Until the team can rectify the problem, the Chargers are playing home games at Camelot Park in Chesapeake on 948 King Arthur Drive.