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San Diego Union-Tribune

NORBERTO SANTANA JR.

City, Chargers at odds over `trigger' deadline | Delay suggested; team says it's `time to talk'

December 3, 2002

Abstract:
The Chargers rejected any talk of delays. Mark Fabiani, special counsel to Chargers President Dean Spanos, said, "The time to talk is now."

"The Chargers are complaining that they need to see the Charger task force recommendations before they decide if they should trigger," [Dick Murphy] said yesterday. "My guess is that the City Council might consider extending the trigger deadline if the Chargers are interested. I want to give people an opportunity to make their best case."

"The trigger and the ticket guarantee are part of the problem, and the Chargers have offered to abolish both the trigger and the guarantee," Fabiani said. "Simply delaying these problems for another day is not in the public interest."

Full Text:
Copyright SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE PUBLISHING COMPANY Dec 3, 2002

Mayor Dick Murphy and two city councilmen signaled to the Chargers yesterday a willingness to extend the deadline for when the team must pull the trigger on its lease with the city of San Diego.

The Chargers rejected any talk of delays. Mark Fabiani, special counsel to Chargers President Dean Spanos, said, "The time to talk is now."

Sunday was the first day of a two-month window in which the Chargers can notify the city they have triggered the lease's renegotiation clause.

Murphy and Councilmen Scott Peters and Ralph Inzunza sent a memo yesterday to the city manager and city attorney asking them to relay the extension offer recommended by Geoff Patnoe, executive director of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.

Patnoe also serves on the Citizens' Task Force on Chargers Issues, which the City Council created in the summer to see what, if anything, could be done to find a fiscally responsible way to keep the team in San Diego.

The group was expected to finish its work by February, but last month the Chargers delayed a presentation to the task force on the team's stadium plans at the Qualcomm site. The panel's work could be delayed until April, some task force members have said.

Inzunza and Peters echoed Murphy's earlier call that the task force should be allowed to finish its work before the Chargers use the trigger clause.

"The Chargers are complaining that they need to see the Charger task force recommendations before they decide if they should trigger," Murphy said yesterday. "My guess is that the City Council might consider extending the trigger deadline if the Chargers are interested. I want to give people an opportunity to make their best case."

Patnoe said he forwarded the idea "to eliminate what's been a distraction over the past few months, so that the task force can complete their deliberations in a less hostile environment, so we could provide something of value to the council and the community."

Fabiani said the City Council needs to meet with the team now to consider the Chargers' offer to eliminate the trigger and the ticket guarantee, which requires the city to pay the team for revenue equivalent to 60,000 seats at each home game. The city has paid more than $25 million through 2001 for the guarantee.

In exchange for eliminating the trigger and ticket guarantee, the team wants out of its lease, due to expire in 2020.

Both items are public relations problems for the team, Chargers officials have said, and could hurt chances to pass a ballot measure for a new stadium in 2004.

"The trigger and the ticket guarantee are part of the problem, and the Chargers have offered to abolish both the trigger and the guarantee," Fabiani said. "Simply delaying these problems for another day is not in the public interest."

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

 



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