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San Diego Union-Tribune

NORBERTO SANTANA JR.

Chargers task force favors three-month trigger delay | Panelists say clause would hinder work

December 24, 2002

Abstract:
[Bruce Henderson] said the delay helps the Chargers rally support without imposing any of the financial disclosure requirements of the trigger provision.

A 60-day window opened Dec. 1 during which the Chargers can notify the city that they have met the salary threshold. Once the Chargers notify the city, a 90-day negotiation period starts.

Earlier this month, [Geoff Patnoe] suggested a trigger delay to council members. Mayor Dick Murphy and Councilmen Ralph Inzunza and Scott Peters asked city staff to see if the Chargers would agree to a trigger delay.



Full Text:
Copyright SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE PUBLISHING COMPANY Dec 24, 2002

A citizens task force decided yesterday to back a San Diego Chargers offer to delay triggering a lease provision that could force a renegotiation of its contract with the city, allow the team's relocation or lead to a court fight.

The Citizens' Task Force on Chargers Issues voted 14-1 to recommend the City Council accept the team's offer when the council meets in January. Former Councilman Bruce Henderson, a critic of the original Chargers contract and the new Padres ballpark, opposed the offer.

Mark Fabiani, special counsel to the Chargers, said last week the team would delay the trigger start date from Dec. 1 to March 1 if the city accepted the deal.

Most task force members said they viewed the Chargers' offer as a good-faith gesture. Panel members also feared trying to finish their work in the politically charged environment the trigger provision might unleash.

"All it does is squeeze this task force so we can't do our work," said task force member Len Simon.

Task force members also said a delay would allow the panel to finish deliberations and offer the council a comprehensive overview before the City Council entered formal discussions with the team.

"It would allow the task force to complete their work and present a report to the council in a cooler climate so that they have something of value," said panel member Geoff Patnoe, who initially suggested the delay.

Fabiani is out of the country and could not be reached for comment.

In an earlier statement, he said the team's decision to delay the trigger "will demonstrate, once and for all, the determination of the entire Charger organization to work together with the people of San Diego."

Henderson said the delay helps the Chargers rally support without imposing any of the financial disclosure requirements of the trigger provision.

"You put off the challenge until you have a glitzy proposal," he said. "What the Chargers are trying to accomplish is to get us to back off on challenging their ability to trigger."

Under the Chargers' 1995 lease with the city, the team can trigger an exit clause once every four years until 2020 if player salaries cross a financial bench mark.

A 60-day window opened Dec. 1 during which the Chargers can notify the city that they have met the salary threshold. Once the Chargers notify the city, a 90-day negotiation period starts.

If the two sides can't reach agreement, then an 18-month window opens when the Chargers can shop the team to other cities, with the city of San Diego retaining the right to match any offers during a final 90-day window.

A key component of the trigger provision is how the city verifies the finances involved. Some have said that under the formula all teams in the National Football League would have to open their books because a central figure in the trigger involves league-wide gross revenues.

Chargers officials have said they have met the threshold and have invited city staff to inspect their records. So far, the team has not initiated the trigger clause and the city has not inspected the financial records.

Earlier this month, Patnoe suggested a trigger delay to council members. Mayor Dick Murphy and Councilmen Ralph Inzunza and Scott Peters asked city staff to see if the Chargers would agree to a trigger delay.

Team officials rejected the idea, arguing instead for their proposal to negotiate directly with city staff to get rid of the 1995 lease in exchange for other concessions from the city.

Council members rejected that bid, 5-4, and told the Chargers to keep talking to the task force.

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