Any NFL exhibition here would
have to be the teams’ opener to
allow time for lead-up events
If the San Diego Chargers play here in 2006 or 2007, it would most likely be the team's first preseason game of the year, in early August.
"It almost has to be the first one, and we'd try to make it a condition that both teams play their first-stringers for a while," said Jim Steeg, the Chargers' chief operating officer.
The first game would allow fans to have more interaction with players in the days prior to the game, Steeg said.
"If the teams spend a significant portion of their training camps in Hawaii there could be some ancillary events," he said.
Steeg said representatives from "three or four teams" approached him earlier this week at the NFL meetings on Maui to express interest in being the Chargers' opponents for a game here.
He didn't identify them by name, but said they are West Coast teams. The 49ers, Raiders and Seahawks are likely possibilities because of their location and their popularity in Hawaii.
Steeg said he has not had talks with anyone from the Denver Broncos, who are owned by part-time Hawaii resident Pat Bowlen. The Broncos are also a popular team in Hawaii because of kicker Jason Elam, wide receiver Ashley Lelie and defensive lineman Mario Fatafehi. Elam is a University of Hawaii graduate, Lelie is an alumnus of Radford High School and UH, and Fatafehi is a Farrington High School graduate.
Chargers starting offensive guard Toniu Fonoti is a Kahuku High School graduate.
Steeg is formerly the NFL's executive vice president in charge of special events, including the Super Bowl and the Pro Bowl. He met with state officials on Wednesday to talk about the possibility of having the first NFL game here since the San Francisco 49ers beat the Chargers 17-16 on Aug. 21, 1976.
Financing is one obvious hurdle.
"It's still going to come down to the money," Steeg said. "One team will be giving up a home game and that has to be made up somehow."