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San Diego Union-Tribune

NORBERTO SANTANA JR.

Panel backs legal safeguard for Chargers | Advisory vote is 13-1 on trigger delay issue

January 18, 2003

Abstract:
The Chargers and City Council have agreed to delay a renegotiation deadline in the team's lease, and now a citizens task force is recommending the council accept a team request for legal protection if a court strikes down the delay.

Under the team's 1995 lease, it can trigger a renegotiation with the city once every four years if its players' salaries cross a financial benchmark tied to leaguewide revenues. Every Dec. 1 in a trigger year, the team has 60 days to notify the city it wants to renegotiate.

Task force member Bruce Henderson voted against the agreement. Henderson has argued that any extension should be tied to the Chargers revealing financial documents related to the trigger.



Full Text:
Copyright SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE PUBLISHING COMPANY Jan 18, 2003

Editions vary
The Chargers and City Council have agreed to delay a renegotiation deadline in the team's lease, and now a citizens task force is recommending the council accept a team request for legal protection if a court strikes down the delay.

The Citizens' Task Force on Chargers Issues voted 13-1 Thursday night to make the recommendation, which would bind the city to accept the team's right to trigger the renegotiation clause if a court rejects the extension agreement.

The task force also approved strengthening the agreement's language so the city retains its rights to challenge the trigger clause.

Under the team's 1995 lease, it can trigger a renegotiation with the city once every four years if its players' salaries cross a financial benchmark tied to leaguewide revenues. Every Dec. 1 in a trigger year, the team has 60 days to notify the city it wants to renegotiate.

Chargers attorney Allan Mutchnik said the team supports the modified language the task force suggested to protect the city.

Task force member Bruce Henderson voted against the agreement. Henderson has argued that any extension should be tied to the Chargers revealing financial documents related to the trigger.

He also has expressed concerns that the stipulation interferes with the public's right to conduct a referendum or challenge the delay in court.

Earlier this week, the City Council approved delaying the trigger from Dec. 1 to March 1 but deferred acting on the issue of legal protection for the team to trigger renegotiations. The council wanted the task force to make a recommendation first.

Some council members also questioned whether the Chargers should cover city's legal costs in case of a legal challenge. The task force recommended the council consult the city attorney.

"The city attorney has an opinion on that, and the task force did not want to insert itself between the City Council and the city attorney," said task force Chairman David Watson.

Task force member Len Simon said, "I guess, in football vernacular, we punted."

City Attorney Casey Gwinn told council members earlier this week he opposed the idea because he would want to stay independent from the Chargers in any litigation.

Mutchnik said the team agreed with Gwinn. After the council meeting, Chargers spokesman Mark Fabiani said the team would not agree to cover the city's legal costs.

If council members insisted, Fabiani said, delaying the trigger might be scrapped.

Council members are scheduled to consider the task force's recommendation on Jan. 28, one day before the clock runs out on using the trigger this year.

Norberto Santana: (619) 718-5069; norberto.santana@uniontrib.com



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