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Chargers Agree to Extend Talks With San Diego

August 07, 2003|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

The San Diego Chargers, on the verge of officially exploring their options to relocate to Los Angeles, agreed Wednesday to extend their good-faith negotiating period with San Diego by almost nine months.

Although the agreement is non-exclusive, meaning the Chargers can simultaneously talk with other suitors, team officials say they are dedicated to finding a stadium solution in San Diego. They want a new venue and want to do whatever is necessary to put a proposal on the ballot for 2006.

The San Diego City Council will vote today on a negotiation extension to May 1. The request to extend was made by San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy in a meeting Tuesday with Charger President Dean Spanos, the first meeting between the two since the Chargers triggered the escape clause in their Qualcomm Stadium lease in March.

"We have been working hard to negotiate with the city for the past five months," Charger stadium point man Mark Fabiani said in a statement. "As the Chargers agree to this extension, we hope that the City will work with us to deliver significant, visible progress to the people of San Diego in the very near future."

This is the second time the Chargers have agreed to such an extension to what was originally a 90-day negotiating period. Under the terms of their lease, the Chargers can negotiate with other cities but cannot deliver an offer sheet to San Diego until the current bargaining period ends. After that comes an 18-month period during which the team can solicit one or more offers and, at any time during that period, bring it back to San Diego officials to match. If San Diego does not match the offer, the Chargers are free to leave.

The extension not only buys time for San Diego but also for the Chargers, whose options in Los Angeles appear to be dwindling. The league is continuing to weigh the possibility of renovating the Rose Bowl, but the concept of building a stadium on a toxic landfill in Carson -- at least in the current configuration of the deal -- is all but dead, according to several sources.

Coliseum officials are trying to position the stadium as an NFL contender. They say they have made strides with preservationists in an effort to maintain the stadium's status as a historic landmark.

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