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San Diego Union-Tribune

NORBERTO SANTANA JR.

Chargers support initial task force recommendations | Team spokesman cites positive issues

February 22, 2003

Abstract:
Mark Fabiani, a Chargers spokesman, said the panel's support for talks with the city and developing the Qualcomm Stadium site were positive developments.

To obtain a new stadium, Fabiani said the Chargers would press the National Football League "for a commitment to multiple Super Bowls."

The one area where Fabiani did not have specific answers was whether the Chargers would trigger a renegotiation clause in their lease with the city. The clause can only be used if the team can show it has met a financial formula that measures players' salaries against leaguewide revenues.

Full Text:
Copyright SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE PUBLISHING COMPANY Feb 22, 2003

Editions vary
A Chargers spokesman said yesterday the team supports the initial recommendations of a task force studying ways to keep the football franchise in San Diego.

The Citizens' Task Force on Chargers Issues decided Thursday that no public money should be spent on a new stadium but agreed that taxes from developing a portion of the 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium site could be used for other stadium-related costs such as roads, parks and paying off existing debt.

The panel also will recommend the city begin talks about a possible new stadium.

Mark Fabiani, a Chargers spokesman, said the panel's support for talks with the city and developing the Qualcomm Stadium site were positive developments.

"All of those things are reasons for us to be hopeful about the next steps in the process," Fabiani said. "The way to get this done is to better utilize that site."

He made his comments at a speech to the Catfish Club, an African- American organization that holds a weekly luncheon program in San Diego.

In answering questions from the audience, Fabiani said team officials are working to build support for a new stadium and have met with labor leaders, among others. They also have met privately with county officials to talk about a joint partnership with the city, he said.

To obtain a new stadium, Fabiani said the Chargers would press the National Football League "for a commitment to multiple Super Bowls."

Last month, the Chargers unveiled a $400 million stadium proposal that calls for a $200 million public bond repaid by developing a portion of the 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium site.

Next week, the task force is expected to adopt its final report, after fine-tuning its central negotiating principles. The task force still has to decide whether the council should pursue specific development models, such as leasing the team the land or adopting a temporary sales or other tax to finance the public contribution.

Fabiani said the team might be interested in exploring the lease option.

"You won't know if something like this works until there is a public planning process," he said. "But this idea is definitely something we would consider."

The one area where Fabiani did not have specific answers was whether the Chargers would trigger a renegotiation clause in their lease with the city. The clause can only be used if the team can show it has met a financial formula that measures players' salaries against leaguewide revenues.

Last month, council members agreed to extend the 60-day notification window from Dec. 1 to March 1. Because the trigger clause also allows the team to shop itself to other cities, many city leaders have urged the team to forgo using the provision.

Fabiani said that no decisions have been made yet on whether to pull the trigger. But he added that there have been threats of lawsuits if the team attempts to negotiate with the city without using the provision.

The City Attorney's Office has maintained that the two sides can negotiate without a trigger notice being sent.

In a letter sent to season ticket holders earlier this month, Chargers President Dean Spanos left the impression that the team would use the trigger. He wrote that "the team has met the (financial) conditions and anticipates that the process will begin once the Citizens' Task Force on Chargers Issues delivers its findings to the city."

Spanos said the team hopes the "renegotiation process" leads to productive discussions with the city, but he also held out the possibility "that under the current agreement the process could result in its possible termination after the 2003 season."

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


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