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San Diego Union-Tribune

Model partnership | Chargers, task force find common ground

March 1, 2003

Abstract:
The Chargers also appear ready to invoke the "trigger" clause in their existing lease in order to begin talks with the city. If the team does so, during the 60-day window that opens today, it should accompany the action with a firm written commitment that it will talk exclusively to San Diego, not to any other cities. For its part, the city should hire independent experts to advise it on its negotiations with the Chargers.

Full Text:
The San Diego Union - Tribune; San Diego, Calif.; Mar 1, 2003;

The prospects of building a new football stadium and keeping the Chargers in San Diego have been advanced immeasurably by the final recommendations of the citizens task force. The panel's proposal offers a model public-private partnership that can serve the interests of both the team and the taxpayers. It merits prompt negotiations to flesh out the details.

Under the task force's recommendations, the city would lease the sprawling Qualcomm Stadium site to the team, which would redevelop the parcel with a mix of commercial and residential projects, including a new stadium and a riverfront park. The costs and financial risks of carrying out this billion-dollar-plus venture would be borne by the Chargers, not the taxpayers. New taxes generated by the initiative would be used to pay for the public infrastructure and to cover the approximately $65 million in outstanding debt on Qualcomm's 1995 expansion. Existing city general fund revenues would be off-limits to the project.

In response to the task force plan, spokesman Mark Fabiani said the Chargers would be willing under the right circumstances to pay 100 percent of stadium construction costs and assume financial responsibility for redeveloping the site. That compares very favorably with the team's earlier proposal that it and the city each contribute $200 million toward the costs of the stadium, while the city would be responsible for the broader overhaul of the site.

Thus the task force and the team have mutually embraced the concept. Now it is up to Mayor Dick Murphy, subject to a vote by the City Council, to begin a vigorous negotiating process with the team. The challenge will be to work out the details of a cost- sharing plan and then devise a large-scale redevelopment scheme for Mission Valley that will win community support. Ultimately, the project must be submitted to voters for approval, ideally by the November 2004 citywide election.

The Chargers also appear ready to invoke the "trigger" clause in their existing lease in order to begin talks with the city. If the team does so, during the 60-day window that opens today, it should accompany the action with a firm written commitment that it will talk exclusively to San Diego, not to any other cities. For its part, the city should hire independent experts to advise it on its negotiations with the Chargers.

Despite severely strained relations of late between the Chargers and the people of San Diego, the citizens task force has accomplished its mission beautifully: It has put forth a plan that not only is a fiscally responsible way to keep the team here but also offers tremendous benefits to taxpayers.

 



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