The San Diego City Council agreed by an 8-1 vote Thursday to extend the good-faith negotiating period with the Chargers by almost nine months.
The Chargers are seeking a new stadium and want to clear the way for a proposal to be put on the ballot in 2006. They believe a new Qualcomm Stadium lease -- one without the controversial ticket guarantee -- will engender better feelings in San Diego and could help them secure a state-of-the-art venue.
The team triggered the release clause in its current lease in March, opening a 90-day negotiating window with the city. The sides were in their second such bargaining period -- one that was due to expire Aug. 31 -- yet the period was effectively over because the council is recessing for summer vacation this week.
The non-exclusive negotiating period now stretches until May 1, 2004.
"It's not a great victory for anybody," said Mark Fabiani, the team's point man for stadium issues. "It's just more time. We need to make some progress and the public needs to see some progress in the very near future."
The ticket guarantee is still in effect, meaning the city must pay for unsold general-admission tickets for the exhibition and regular season.
"We could certainly strike a deal after the season starts, and we'd consider refunding money to the city," Fabiani said, referring to a refund for games played this season before such an agreement was in place.